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INSTITUTES 



CHRISTIAN RELIGION 



BOOK III 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THE COMMENCEMENT ANDCONTINUAL^PROQRESS OF JUSTIFICATION. 

For the further elucidation of this subject, let us examine 
what kind of righteousness can be found in men during tht 
whole course of their lives. Let ns divide them into foui^ 
classes. For either they are destitute of the knowledge of 
God, and immerged in idolatry ; or, having been initiated by 
the sacraments, they lead impure Uves, denying God in their 
actions, while they confess him with their lips, and belong to 
Christ only in name ; or they are hypocrites, concealing the 
niiquity of their hearts with vain disguises ; or, being regene- 
rated by the Spirit of God, they devote themselves to true holi- 
ness. In the first of these classes, judged of according to their 
natural characters, from the crown of the head to the sole of 
the foot there will not be found a single spark of goodness ; 
unless we mean to charge the Scripture with falsehood in 
these representations which it gives of all the sons of Adam — 
that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately 
wicked ;" (t^j) that " every imagination of man's heart is evil 
from his youth; " (x) that "the thoughts of man are vanity; 
that there is no fear of God before his eyes ; " (y) that " there 
is none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God; " (z) 
in a word, " that he is flesh," (a) a term expressive of all 
those works which are enumerated by Paul — " adultery, forni 



(u>) Jer. xvii. 9. (z) Gen. vi. 5 ; viii. 21. (y) Psalm xciv. 11 

fz) Psaln- x".v. 1—3 Rom. iii. 11. (a) Gen. vi. 3 



INSTITUTES or THF [ 



BOOK 111 



cation, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, 
variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, 
murders," (6) and every impurity and abomination that can be 
conceived. This is the dignity, in the confidence of which 
they must glory. But if any among them discover that in- 
tegrity in their conduct which among men has some appear- 
ance of sanctity, yet, since we know that God regards not 
external splendour, we must penetrate to the secret springs of 
these actions, if we wish them to avail any thing to justifica- 
tion. We must narrowly examine, I say, from what disposi- 
tion of heart these works proceed. Though a most extensive 
field of observation is now before us, yet, since the subject 
may be despatched in very few words, I shall be as compendi- 
ous as possible. 
^, II. In the first place, I do not deny, that whatever excellences 
appear in uiiBehevers, they are the gifts of God. I am not 
so at variance with the common opinion of mankind, as to con- 
tend that there is no difference between the justice, moderation, 
and equity of Titus or Trajan, and the rage, intemperance, and 
cruelty of Caligula, or Nero, or Domitian ; between the obsce- 
nities of Tiberius and the continence of Vespasian ; and, not to 
dwell on particular virtues or vices, between the observance 
and the contempt of moral obligation and positive laws. For 
so great is the difference between just and unjust, that it is 
visible even in the lifeless image of it. For what order will 
be left in the world, if these opposites be confounded together? 
Such a distinction as this, therefore, between virtuous and 
vicious actions, has not only been engraven by the Lord in 
the heart of every man, but has also been frequently confirmed 
by his providential dispensations. We see how he confers 
many blessings of the present life on those who practise virtue 
among men. Not that this external resemblance of virtue 
merits the least favour from him ; but he is pleased to discover 
his great esteem of true righteousness, by not permitting that 
which is external and hypocritical to remain without a tem- 
poral reward. Whence it follows, as we have ju^t acknow- 
ledged, that these virtues, whatever they may be, or rather 
images of virtues, are the gifts of God ; since there is nothing 
in any respect laudable which does not proceed from him. 
/ III. Nevertheless the observation of Augustine is strictly 
/ true — that all who are strangers to the religion of the one true 
/ God, however they may be esteemed worthy of admiration for 
/ their reputed virtue, not only merit no reward, but are rather 
I deserving of punishment, because they contaminate the pure 
\ gifts of God with the pollution of their own hearts. For 

{b) Gal. V. 19, &c. 



CHAP. XIV.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 6 

Ihough they are instruments used by God for the preservation 
of human society, by the exercise of justice, continence, friend- 
ship, temperance, fortitude, and prudence, yet they perform 
these good works of God very improperly; being restrained 
from the commission of evil, not by a sincere attachment to 
true virtue, but either by mere ambition, or by self-love, or by 
some other irregular disposition. These actions, therefore, 
being corrupted in their very source by the impurity of their 
hearts, are no more entitled to be classed among virtues, than 
those vices which commonly deceive mankind by their affinity 
and similitude to virtues. Besides, when we remember that 
the end of what is right is always to -serve God, whatever is 
directed to any other end, can have no claim to that appella- 
tion. Therefore, since they regard not the end prescribed by 
Div'ne wisdom, though an act performed by them be externally 
and apparently good, yet, being directed to a wrong eiid, it 
becomes sin. He concludes, therefore, that all the Fabricii, 
Scipios, and Catos, in all their celebrated actions, were guilty 
of sin, iiiasmuch as, being destitute of the light of faith, they 
did not direct those actions to that end to which they ought to 
have directed them ; that consequently tliey had no genuine 
righteousness; because moral duties are estimated not by ex- 

_jteraal actions, but by Jhe_ends for which such actions arei' 

^ designed. ''''~'~~^-— '--^*"* - ^"^ ■ • ■ - 

IV. Besides, if there be any truth in the assertion of John, 
that "he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life ; " (c) 
they who have ao interest in Christ, whatever be their cha- 
racters, their actions, or their endeavours, are constantly ad- 
vancing, through the whole course of their lives, towards 
destruction and the sentence of eternal death. On this ar- 
gument is founded the following observation of Augustine : 
" Our religion discriminates between the righteous and the un- 
righteous, not by the law of works, but by that of faith, without 
which works apparently good are perverted into sins." Where- 
fore the same writer, in another place, strikingly compares the 
exertions of such men to a deviation in a race from the pre- 
scribed course. For the more vigorously any one runs out of 
the way, he recedes so much the further from the goal, and 
becomes so much the more unfortunate. Wherefore he con- 
tends, that it is better to halt in the way, than to run out of the 
way. Finally, it is evident that they are evil trees, since with- 
out a participation of Christ there is no sanctification. They 
may produce fruits fair and beautiful to the eye, and even sweet 
to the taste, but never any that are good. Hence we clearly 
perceive that all thf thoughts, meditations, and actions of man 

(c) 1 John V. 12. 



6 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III, 

antecedent to a reconciliation to God b/ faith, are accursed, 
and not only of no avail to justification, but certainly deserving 
of condemnation. But why do we dispute concerning it as a 
dubious point, when it is already proved by the testimony of the 
apostle, that " without faith it is impossible^ to please God ^ " {d) 
V. But the proof will be still clearer, if the grace of God be 
directly opposed to the natural condition of man. The Scrip- 
ture invariably proclaims, that ^d finds nothing in men which 
can incite him to bless them, but that he prevents tham by his 
gratuitous goodness. For what can a dead man do to recover 
life ? But when God illuminates us with the knowledge of 
himself, he is said to raise us from death, and to make us new 
creatures, (e) For under this character we find the Divine 
goodness towards us frequently celebrated, especially by the 
apostle. " God," says he, " who is rich in mercy, for his great 
love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, 
hath quickened us together with Christ," &c. (/) In another 
place, when, under the type of Abraham, he treats of the general 
calling of believers, he says. It is " God, who quickeneth the 
dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they 
were." (^) If we are nothing, what can we do? Wherefore 
God forcibly represses this presumption, in the Book of Job, in 
the following words : " Who hath prevented me, that I should 
repay him ? Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is 
mine." {h) Paul, explaining this passage, concludes from it, 
that we ought not to suppose we bring any thing to the Lord 
but ignominious indigence and emptiness. {i\ Wherefore, in 
the passage cited above, in order to prove that ve attain to the 
hope of salvation, not by works, but solely by the grace of God, 
he alleges, that " we are his workmanship, created in Christ 
Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that 
we should walk in them." [k] As though he would say, Who 
of us can boast that he has influenced God by his right- 
eousness, since our first power to do well proceeds from re- 
generation ? For, according to the constitution of our nature, 
oil might be extracted from a stone sooner than we could 
perform a good work. It is wonderful, indeed, that man, 
condemned to such ignominy, dares to pretend to have any 
thing left. Let us confess, therefore, with that eminent servaiit 
of the Lord, that 'IGod hath saved us, and called us with a 
holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his 
own purpose and grace ; " [l) and that " the kindness and love 
of God our Saviour towards man appeared," because " not by 
works of righteousness which we have done, but according to 



^d) Heb. xi. 6. (/) Eph. ii. 4, 5. ^/z) Job xli. 11. {k) Ephes. ii. 10 

-«) John V. 25. (g) Rom. iv. 1"^, (i) Rom. xi. 35. {I) 2 Tim. i. 9 



CHAP. XIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 7 

his mercy he saved us; that being justified by .lis grace, we 
should be made heirs of eternal life."(m) By this confession 
we divest man of all righteousness, even to the smallest particle, 
till through mere mercy he has been regenerated to the hope of 
elernai life ; for if a righteousness of works contributed any 
thing to our justification, we are not truly said to be "justified 
by grace." The apostle, when he asserted justification to be 
by grace, had certainly not forgotten his argument in another 
place, that "if it be of works, then it is no more grace." (72; 
And what else does our Lord intend, when he declares, " 1 am 
not come to call the righteous, but sinners?" (0) If sinners 
only are admitted, why do we seek to enter by a counterfeit 
righteousness ? 

VI. The same thought frequently recurs to me, that I am in 
danger of injuring the mercy of God, by labouring with sc 
much anxiety in the defence of this doctrine, as though it were 
doubtful or obscure. But such being our malignity, that, unless 
it be most powerfully subdued, it never allows to God that 
which belongs to him, I am constrained to dwell a little longer 
upon it. But as the Scripture is sufficiently perspicuous on 
this subject, I shall use its language in preference to my own. 
Isaiah, after having described the universal ruin of mankind, 
properly subjoins the method of recovery. " The Lord saw it, 
and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw 
that there was no man, and wondered that there was no interces- 
sor : therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him ; and his 
righteou?ness it sustained him." (p) Where are our righteous- 
nesses, il it be true, as the prophet says, that no one assists the 
Lord in procuring his salvation ? So another prophet introduces 
the Lord speaking of the reconciliation of sinners to himself, say- 
ing, " I will betroth thee unto me for ever, in righteousness, and 
in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will 
have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy." (q) If this 
covenant, which is evidently our first union with God, depend 
on his mercy, there remains no foundation for our righteousness. 
And I should really wish to be informed by those, who pretend 
that man advances to meet God with some righteousness of 
works, whether there be any righteousness at all, but that which 
is accepted by God. If it be madness to entertain such a thought, 
what that is acceptable to God can proceed from his enemies, 
who, with all their actions, are the objects of his complete 
abhorrence ? And that we are all the inveterate and avowed 
enemies 3f our God, till we are justified and received into his 
friendship, is an undeniable truth, (r) If justification be the 



(m) TitUB iii. 4, 5, 7. (o) Matt. ix. 13. (q) Hosea ii. 19, 23. 

(n) Rom xi. 6. (p) I«aiah lix. 15, 16. (r) Rom. v. 6, 10. Col. i 23 



8 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK. IX. 

principle from which love originates, what righteousnesses of 
works can precede it ? To destroy that pestilent arrogance, 
therefore, John carefully apprizes us that " we did not first love 
him." (s) And the Lord had by his prophet long before taught 
the same truth : " I will love them freely," saith he, "for mine 
anger is turned away."(^) If his love was spontaneously m- 
clined towards us, it certainly is not excited by works. But the 
ignorant mass of mankind have only this notion of it — that no 
man has merited that Christ should effect our redemption ; 
but that towards obtaining the possession of redemption, we 
derive some assistance from our own works. But however we 
may have been redeemed by Christ, yet till we are introduced 
into communion with him by the calling of the Father, we are 
both heirs of darkness and death, and enemies to God. For 
Paul teaches, that we are not purified and washed from our 
pollutions by the blood of Christ, till the Spirit effects that 
purification within us. (w) This is the same that Peter intends, 
when he declares that the " sanctification of the Spirit" is 
effectual " unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus 
Christ." (x) If we are sprinkled by the Spirit with the blood 
of Christ for purification, we must not imagine that before this 
ablution we are in any other state than that of sinners desti- 
tute of Christ. We may be certain, therefore, thatUhe corn- 
mencement of our salvation is, as it were, a resurrection from 
death to life ; because, when " on the behalf of Christ it is 
given to us to befieve on him," (y) we then begin to experience 
a transition from death to life. 

VII. The same reasoning may be applied to the second and 
third classes of men in the division stated above. For the 
iinpurity of the conscience proves, that they are neither of them 
yet regenerated by the Spirit pf God ; and their unregeneracy 
betrays also their want of faith : whence it appears, that they 
are not yet reconciled to God, or justified in his sight, since 
these blessings m;e, only a.ttaine^ faith. What can be per- 
formecTby sinners alienated from God, that is not execrable in 
his view ? Yet all the impious, and especially hypocrites, are 
inflated with this foolish confidence. Though they know that 
their heart is full of impurity, yet if they perform any specious 
actions, they esteem them too good to be despised by God. 
Hence that pernicious error, that though convicted of a polluted 
and impious heart, they cannot be brought to confess them- 
selves destitute of righteousness ; but while they acknowledge 
themselves to be Unrighteous, because it cannot be denied, they 
C till cirrogate to themselves some degree of righteousness. This 

(#) 1 Jo'in IV. lU. (<) Hosea xiv. 4. (w) 1 Cor. vi. 11 

[x) 1 Peter i. 2. (y) Phil. i. 29. 



CHIP. XIV.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 9 

vanity the Lord excellently refutes by tlie prophet. " Ask 
now," saith he, " the priests, saying, If one bear holy flesh in 
the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or 
any meat, shall it be holy ? And the priests answered and 
said. No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead 
body touch any of these, shall it be unclean ? And the priests 
answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Hag- 
gai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before 
me, saith the Lord ; and so is every work of their hands ; and 
that which they offer there is unclean." [z) I wish that this 
passage might either obtain full credit with us, or be deeply 
impressed on our memory. For there is no one, however fla- 
gitious his whole life may be, who can suff'er himself to be 
persuaded of what the Lord here plainly declares. The great- 
est sinner, as soon as he has performed two or three duties of 
the law, doubts not but they are accepted of him for righteous- 
ness ; but the Lord positively denies that any sanctification is 
acquired by such actions, unless the heart be previously well 
purified ; and not content with this, he asserts that all the 
works of sinners are contaminated by the impurity of their 
hearts. Let the name of righteousness, then, no longer be given 
to these works which are condemned for their pollution by the 
hps of God. And by what a fine similitude does he demon- 
strate this ! For it might have been objected that what the 
Lord had enjoined was inviolably holy. But he shov/s, on the 
contrary, that it is not to be wondered at, if those things which 
are sanctified by the law of the Lord, are defiled by the pollu- 
tion of the wicked ; since an unclean hand cannot touch any 
thing that has been consecrated, without profaning it. 

VIII. He excellently pursues the same argument also in 
Isaiah : " Bring no more vain oblations ; incense is an abomina- 
tion unto me ; your new moons and your appointed feasts my 
soul hateth ; they are a trouble unto me ; I am weary to bear 
them. When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes 
from you ; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear : 
your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean ; put 
away the evil of your doings." (a) What is the reason that 
the Lord is so displeased at an obedience to his law ? But, in 
fact, he here rejects nothing that arises from the genuine ob- 
servance of the law ; the beginning of which, he every where 
teaches, is an unfeigned fear of his name. (6) If that be want- 
ing, all the oblations made to him are not merely trifles, but 
nauseous and abominable pollutions. Let hypocrites go now. 
and, retaining depravity concealed in their hearts, endeavour by 

fz^ Hnjif. ii. 11—14. (a) Isaiah i. 13 16. 

ffr) Ven* Iv 6 t'aalm cxi. 10. Prov. i. 7 : it. JO 

▼OL. II. 2 



10 



INSTITUTES OF THE 



their works to merit the favour of God. But by such means 
they will add provocation to provocation ; for " the sacrifice of 
the wicked is an abomination to the Lord ; but the prayer of 
the upright " alone " is his delight." (c) We lay it down, 
therefore, as an undoubted truth, which ought to be well known 
to such as are but moderately versed in the Scriptures, that 
even the most splendid works of men not yet truly sanctified, 
are so far from righteousness in the Divine view, that they are 
accounted sins. And therefore they have strictly adhered to 
the truth, who have maintained that the works of a man do 
not conciliate God's favour to his person ; but, on the contrary, 
that works are never acceptable to God, unless the person who 
performs them has previously found favour in his sight. And 
this order, to which the Scripture directs us, is religiously to be 
observed. Moses relates, that " The Lord had respect unto 
Abel and to his offering." [d) Does he not plainly indicate 
that the Lord is propitious to men, before he regards their 
works ? Wherefore the purification of the heart is a necessary 
prerequisite, in order that the works which we perform may be 
favourably received by God ; for the declaration of Jeremiah is 
always in force, that the " eyes of the Lord are upon the 
truth." (e) And the Holy Spirit has asserted by the mouth of 
Peter, that it is "by faith" alone that the "heart" is "pu- 
rified," (/) which proves that the first foundation is laid in a 
true and living faith. 

IX. Let us now examine what degree of righteousness is 
possessed by those whom we have ranked in the fourth class. 
We admit, that when God, by the interposition of the right- 

- eousness of Christ', reconciles us to himself, and having granted 
lis the free remission of our sins, esteems us as righteous per- 
sons, to this mercy he adds also another blessing ; for he^dweiks 

^jli_jis by his Holy Spirit, by whose power our carnal desiies 
are daily more and more mortified, and we are sanctified, cnat 
is, consecrated to the Lord unto real purity of life, havins; our 
hearts moulded to obey his law, so that it is our prevailing in- 
clination to submit to his will, and to promote his glory aloiie by 
all possible means. But even while, under the guidance of the 
Holy Spirit, we are walking in the ways of the Lord, — th it we 
may not forget ourselves, and be filled with pride, we feel such 
remains of imperfection, as afford us abundant cause foi hu- 
mility. The Scripture declares, that " there is not a jusi man 
upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not." {g) What Kind 
of righteousness, then, will even believers obtain from their own 
works ? In the first place, I assert, that the best of their per' 
formances are tarnished and corrupted by some carnal impurity 

(c) Prov. XV. 8. (d) Gen. iv. 4. (t) Jei. » J. 

(/) Acts XV. 9. {g) Eeclee. vn. )di. 



CHAP. XIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 1 1 

and debased by a mixture of some alloy. Let any holy servant 
of God select from his whole life that which he shall conceive 
to have been the best of all his actions, and let him examine it 
with attention on every side ; he will undoubtedly discover in 
it some taint of the corruption of the flesh ; since our alacrity 
to good actions is never what it ought to be, but our course is 
retarded by great debility. Though we perceive that the ble- 
mishes which deform the works of the saints, are not difficult 
to be discovered, yet suppose we admit them to be very dimi- 
nutive spots, will they not be at all ofiensive in the sight of God, 
in which even the stars are not pure ? We have now ascer- 
tained, that there is not a single action performed by the saints, 
which, if judged according to its intrinsic merit, does not justly 
deserve to be rewarded with shame. 

X. In the next place, even though it were possible for us to 
perform any works completely pure and perfect, yet one sin is 
sufficient to extinguish and annihilate all remembrance of ante- 
cedent righteousness, as is declared by the prophet, (h) With 
Him James also agrees : " Whosoever shall offend," says he, 
"iiL2flfi..J'.oiut,_.he is guilty of alt.'' (?) Now, since this mortal 
life is never pure or free from sin, whatever righteousness we 
might acquire being perpetually corrupted, overpowered, and 
destroyed by subsequent sins, it would neither be admitted in 
the sight of God, nor be imputed to us for righteousness. 
Lastly, in considering the righteousness of works, we should 
regard, not any action commanded in the law, but the com- 
mandment itself. Therefore, if we seek righteousness by the 
law, it is in vain for us to perform two or three works ; a 
perpetual observance of the law is indispensably necessary. 
Wherefore God does riot impute to us for righteousness that 
remission of sins, of which we have spoken, once only, (as 
some foolishly imagine,) in order that, having obtained pardon 
for our past lives, we may afterwards seek righteousness by the 
law ; which would be only sporting with us, and deluding us 
by a fallacious hope. For since perfection is unattainable by 
us, as long as we are in this mortal body, and the law denounces 
death and judgment on all whose works are not completely and 
universally righteous, it will always have matter of accusation 
and condemnation against us, unless it be prevented by the 
Divine mercy continually absolving us by a perpetual remission 
of our sins. Wherefore it will ever be true, as we asserted at 
the beginning, that if we be judged according to our demerits, 
whatever be our designs or undertakings, we are nevertheless 
with all our endeavours and all our pursuits, deserving of death 
and destruction. 

(b) Ezek. xviii. 24 (i) James ii. 10. 



12 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

A XI. We must strenuously insist on these two ponits — first. 
|uhat there never was an action performed by a pious man, 
flwhich, if examined by the scrutinizing eye of Divine justice^ 
Uwould not deserve condemnation ; and secondly, if any such 
Ijthing be admitted, (though it cannot be the case with any indi- 
widual of mankind,) yet being corrupted and contaminated by 
the sins, of which its performer is confessedly guilty, it loses 
every claim to the Divine favour. And this is the principal 
hinge on which our controversy [with the Papists] turns. For 
concerning the beginning of justification, there is no dispute 
between us and the sounder schoolmen, but we all agree, that a 
sinner being freely delivered from condemnation obtains right- 
eousness, and that by the remission of his sins ; only they, 
under the term justification, comprehend that renovation in 
which we are renewed by the Spirit of God to an obedience to 
the law, and so they describe the righteousness of a regenerate 
jnan as consisting in this — that a man, after having been once "^ 
reconciled to God through faith in Christ, is accounted right- ^ 
eous with God on account of his good works, the merit of 
which is the cause of his acceptance. But the Lord, on the 
contrary, declares, " that faith was reckoned to Abraham for 
righteousness," {k) not during the time while he yet remained 
a worshipper of idols, but after he had been eminent during 
many years for the sanctity of his life. Abraham, then, had for 
a long time worshipped God from a pure heart, and performed 
all that obedience to the law, which a mortal man is capable 
of performing ; yet, aftei* all, his righteousness consisted in faith. 
Whence we conclude, according to the argument of Paul, that 
it was not of works. So when the prophet says, " The just 
shall live by his faith," (Z) he is not speaking of the impious 
and profane, whom the Lord justifies by converting them to 
the faith ; but his address is directed to believers, and they are 
promised life by faith. Paul also removes every doubt, when, 
in confirmation of this sentiment, he adduces the following 
passage of David : " Blessed are they whose iniquities are for- 
given." [m) But it is certain that David spake not of impious 
men, but of believers, whose characters resembled his own ; for 
he spoke from the experience of his own conscience. Where- 
fore it is necessary for us. not to have this blessing for once 
only, but to retain it as long as we live. Lastly, he asserts, 
that the message of a free reconciliation with God, is not only 
promulgated for a day or two, but is perpetual in the church, {n) 
Believers, therefore, even to the end of their lives, have no 
other righteousness than that which is there described. For 
the mediatorial office is perpetually sustained by Christ, by 

(i) Horn, iv ) (0 Hab. ii. 4. (m) Rom. iv. 7. (n) 2 Cor. v. 18, 19 



CHAP. XIV.] CHRISTIAN HELIGION. U? 

whom the Father is reconciled to us : and the efficacy of 
whose death is perpetually the same, consisting in ablution, 
satisfaction, expiation, and perfect obedience, which covers all 
our iniquities. And Paul does not tell the Ephesians that they 
are indebted to grace merely for the beginning of their salva- 
tion, but that they "are saved by grace, not of works, lest any 
man should boast." (o) 

XII. The subterfuges, by which the schoolmen endeavour 
to evade these arguments, are unavailing. They say, that the 
sufficiency of good works to justification arises not from their 
intrinsic merit, but from the grace through which they are 
accepted. Secondly, because they are constrained to acknow- 
ledge the righteousness of works to be always imperfect in the 
present state, they admit, that as long as we live we need the 
remission of our sins, in order to supply the defects of our 
works ; but that our deficiencies are compensated by works of 
supererogation. I reply, that what they denominate the grace 
through which our works are accepted, is no other than the 
free goodness of the Father, with which he embraces us in 
Christ, when he invests us with the righteousness of Christ, 
and accepts it as ours, in order that, in consequence of it, he 
may treat us as holy, pure, and righteous persons. For the 
righteousness of Christ (which, being the only perfect right- 
eousness, is the only one that can bear the Divine scrutiny) 
must be produced on our behalf, and judicially presented, as in 
the case of a surety. Being furnished with this, we obtain by 
faith the perpetual remission of our sins. Our imperfections 
and impurities, being concealed by its purity, are not imputed 
to us, but are as it were buried, and prevented from appearing 
in the view of Divine justice, till the advent of that hour, 
when the old man being slain and utterly annihilated in us, the 
Divine goodness shall receive us into a blessed peace with the 
new Adam, in that state to wait for the day of the Lord, when 
we shall receive incorruptible bodies, and be translated to the 
glories of the celestial kingdom. 

XIII. If these things are true, surely no works of ours can 
render us acceptable to God ; nor can the actions themselves 
be pleasing to him, any otherwise than as a man, who is 
covered with the righteousness of Christ, pleases God and 
obtains the remission of his sins. For God has not promised 
eternal life as a reward of certain works ; he only declares, 
that " he that doeth these things shall live," (jo) denouncing, 
on the contrary, that memorable curse against all who continue 
not in the observance of every one of his commands (q) This 
abundantly refutes the erroneous notion of a partial righteous- 

(o) Ephes. ii. 8, 9. (p) Lev. xviii. 5. Rom. x 5. 

{g) Deut. xxvii. 26. Gal. iii. 10. 



14 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK tH. 

less, since no other righteousness is admitted into heaven but 
an entire observance of the law. Nor is there any more solidity 
in their pretence of a sufficient compensation for imperfections 
by works of supererogation. For are they not by this perpe- 
tually recurring to the subterfuge, from which they have already 
been driven, that the partial observance of the law constitutes, 
as far as it goes, a righteousness of works ? They unblush- 
ingly assume as granted, what no man of sound judgment will 
concede. The Lord frequently declares, that he acknowledges 
no righteousness of works, except in a perfect obedience to his 
law. What presumption is it for us, who are destitute of this, 
in order that we may not appear to be despoiled of all our 
glory, or, in other words, to submit entirely to the Lord — what 
presumption is it for us to boast of I know not what fragments 
of a few actions, and to endeavour to supply deficiencies by 
other satisfactions ! Satisfactions have already been so com- 
pletely demolished, that they ought not to occupy even a 
transient thought. I only remark, that those who trifle in this 
manner, do not consider what an execrable thing sin is in the sight 
of God ; for indeed they ought to know, that all the righteous- 
ness of all mankind, accumulated in one mass, is insufficient to 
compensate for a single sin. We see that man on account of 
one offence was rejected and abandoned by God, so that he 
lost all means of regaining salvation, (r) They are deprived, 
therefore, of the power of satisfaction, with which, however 
they flatter themselves, they will certainly never be able to 
render a satisfaction to God, to whom nothing will be pleasing 
or acceptable that proceeds from his enemies. Now, his ene- 
mies are all those to whom he determines to impute sin. Our 
sins, therefore, must be covered and forgiven, before the Lord 
can regard any of our works. Whence it follows that the 
remission of sins is absolutely gratuitous, and that it is wick- 
edly blasphemed by those who obtrude any satisfactions. Let 
us, therefore, after the example of the apostle, " forgetting those 
things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things 
which are before, press toward the mark for the prize of our 
high calling." (s) 

XIV. But how is the pretence of works of supererogation 
consistent with this injunctions^"'''' WKeh ye shall have done 
all those things which are commanded you, say. We are un- 
profitable servants ; we have done that which was our duty to 
do? " [t) This direction does not inculcate an act of simula- 
tion or falsehood, but a decision in our mind respecting that 
of Avhich we are certain. The Lord, therefore, commands u?; 
sincerely to think and consider witli ourselves, that our services 

(r) Ge .. iii. (sr) Phil. iii. 13, 14. {t) Luke xvii. 10 



CHAP. XIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. Ic 

to him are none of them gratuitous, but merely the perfcrraance 
of_ indispensable duties ; and that justly ; for we are servants 
under such numerous obligations as we coi Id never discharge ; 
even though all our thoughts and all our members were devoted 
to the duties of the law. In saying, therefore, " When ye shall 
have done all those things which are commanded," he supposes 
a case of one man having attained to a degree of righteousness 
beyond what is attained by all the men in the world. How, 
then, while every one of us is at the greatest distance from this 
point, can we presume to glory that we have completely attained 
to that perfect standard? Nor can any one reasoi}abIy object, 
that there is nothing to prevent his efforts from going beyond 
his necessary obligations, who in any respect fails of doing the 
duty incumbent on him. For we must acknowledge, that we 
cannot imagine any thing pertaining either to the service of 
God or to the love of our neighbour, which is not comprehend- 
ed in the Divine law. But if it is a part of the law, let us not 
boast of voluntary liberality, where we are bound by necessity. 
XV. It is irrelevant to this subject, to allege the boasting 
of Paul, (w) that among the Corinthians he voluntarily receded 
from what, if he had chosen, he might have claimed as his 
right, and not only did what was incumbent on him to do, 
but afforded them his gratuitous services beyond the requisi- 
tions of duty. They ought to attend to the reason there as- 
signed, that he acted thus, " lest he should hinder the gospel 
of Christ." (w) For wicked and fraudulent teachers recom- 
mended themselves by this stratagem of liberality, by which 
they endeavoured, both to conciliate a favourable reception to 
their own pernicious dogmas, and to fix au odium on the gos- 
pel ; so that Paul was necessitated either to endanger the doc- 
trine of Christ, or to oppose these artifices. Now, if it be a 
matter of indifference to a Christian to incur an offence when 
he may avoid it, I confess that the apostle performed for the 
Lord a work of supererogation ; but if this was justly required 
of a prudent minister of the gospel, I maintain that he did 
what was his duty to do. Even if no such reason appeared, 
yet the observation of Chrysostom is always true — that all that 
we have., is on the same tenure as the possessions of slaves, 
which the law pronounces to be the property of their masters. 
And Christ has clearly delivered the same truth in the parable,^ 
where he inquires whether we thank a servant, when he re- 
turns home in the evening, after the various labours of the 
day. (.r) But it is possible that he may have laboured with 
greater diligence than we had ventured to require. This may 
be granted ; yet he has done no more than, by the condition 

^«) 1 Cor. ix. {w) 1 Cor. ix. Vi. (i) Luke xvii. 9. 



16 INSTITUTES OF THE [uOOK III 

of servitude, he was under an obligation to do ; since he be- 
longs to us, with all the ability he has. I say nothing of the 
nature of the supererogations which these men wish to boast 
of before God ; for they are contemptible trifles, which he has 
never commanded, which he does not approve, nor, when they 
render up their account to him, will he accept them. We 
cannot admit that there are any works of supererogation ex- 
cept such as those of which it is said by the prophet, " Who 
hath required this at your hand ? " (y) But let them remem- 
ber the language of another passage respecting these things : 
"Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? 
and your labour for that which satisfieth not ? " (;2) It is easy, 
indeed, for these idle doctors to dispute concerning these things 
in easy chairs ; but when the Judge of all shall ascend the 
judgment seat, all such empty notions must vanish away. 
The object of our inquiries ought to be, what plea we may 
bring forward with confidence at his tribunal, not what we can 
invent in schools and cloisters. 

XVI. On this subject our minds require to be guarded 
chiefly against two pernicious principles — That we place no 
confidence in the righteousness of our works, and that we 
ascribe no glory to them. The Scriptures every where drive 
us from all confidence, when they declare that all our right- 
eousnesses are odious in the Divine view, unless they are per- 
fumed with the holiness of Christ ; and that they can only 
excite the vengeance of God, unless they are supported by his 
merciful pardon. Thus they leave us nothing to do, but to 
deprecate the wrath of our Judge with the confession of David, 
" Enter not into judgment with thy servant ; for in thy sight 
shall no man living be justified." (a) And where Job says, 
" If ihe wicked, woe unto me ; and if I be righteous, yet will 
I not lift up my head ; " (6) though he refers to that consum- 
mate righteousness of God, compared to which even the angels 
are deficient, yet he at the same time shows, that when God 
comes to judgment, all men must be dumb. For he not only 
means that he would rather freely recede, than incur the dan- 
ger of contending with the rigour of God, but signifies that he 
experiences in himself no other righteousness than what would 
instantaneously vanish before the Divine presence. When 
confidence is destroyed, all boasting must of necessity be re- 
linquished. For who can give the praise of righteousness to 
his works, in which he is afraid to confide in the presence of 
God? We must therefore have recourse to the Lord, in whom 
we are assured, by Isaiah, that " all the seed of Israel shall be 
justified, and shall glory ; " (c) for it is strictly true, as he 

(v Isaiah i. 12. (2) Isaiah Iv. 2. (a) Psalm cxliii. iJ 

(b) Job X. 15. (c) Isaiah xlv. 25. 



CHAP, XIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 17 

says in another place, that we are "the planiiag of the Lord, 
that he might be glorified." (f/) Our minds therefore will then 
be properly purified, when they shall in no degree confide nor 
glory in our works. But i'oolish men are led into such a false 
and delusive confidence, by the error of always considering 
their works as the cause of their salvation. 

XVII. But if we advert to the four kinds of causes, which 
the philosophers direct us to consider in the production of effects, 
we shall find none of them consistent with works in the accom- 
plishment of our salvation. For the Scripture every where 
proclaims, that the efficient cause of eternal life being procured 
for us, was the mercy of our heavenly Father, and his gra- 
tuitous love towards us; that thejmaterial cause is Christ and 
his obedience, by which he obtained a righteousness for us ; 

"and what shall we denominate the formal and instrumental 
cause, unless it be faith ? These three John comprehends in 
one sentence, when he says, that " Go3'"'soToved the world 
that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth 
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (e) The 
final canse the apostle declares to be, both the demonstration of 
the Divine righteousness and the praise of the Divine goodness, 
in a passage in which he also expressly mentions the other three 
causes. For this is his language to the Romans : " All have 
sinned, and come short of the glory of God, being J^ustified 

Jreely by his grace : " (/) here we have the original siource of 
our salvation, wKch is the gratuitous mercy of God towards us. 
It follows, "through the redemption that is in Christ Jesu's : ' 
here we have the matter of our justification. " Through faith 
in his blood: " here he points out the instrumental canse, by 
which the righteousness of Christ is revealed to us. Lastly, 
he subjoins the end of all, when he says, " To declare hia 
■ighteousnciss ; that he might be just, and the justifier of him 
which believeth in Jesus." And to suggest, by the way, that 
this righteousness consists in reconciliation or propitiation, he 
expressly asserts that Christ was " set forth to be a propitiation." 
So also in the Jirst chapter, to the Bphesians, he teaches that 
we are received into the favour of God through his mere mercy ; 
that it t§ 'accomplished by the mediation of Christ; that it is 
apprehended by faith ; and that the end of all is, that the glory 
of the Divine goodness may be fully displayed, (g) When we 
see that every part_of our salvation is accomplished without us. 
what reason have we to confide or to glory in 6iir''worTfs'? 
Nor can even the most inveterate enemies of Divine grace raise 
any controversy with us concerning the efficient or the finaJ 

{d) Isaiah Ixi. 3. (/) Rom. iii. 23, &c. 

John iii. 16. (g) Ephes. i. 5—7, 13- 



\ 



J 8 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

cause, umess they mean altogether to renounce the authority 
ol" the Scripture. Over the material and formal causes they 
superinduce a false colouring ; as if our own works were to 
share the honour of them with faith and the righteousness of 
Christ. But this also is contradicted by the Scripture, which 
affirms that Christ is the sole author of our righteousness and 
life, and that this blessing of righteousness is enjoyed by faith 
alone. 

XVIII. The saints often confirm and console themselves 
with the remembrance of their own innocence and integrity, 
and sometimes even refrain not from proclaiming it. Now, this 
is done for two reasons ; either that, in comparing their good 
cause with the bad cause of the impious, they derive from such 
comparison an assurance of victory, not so much by the com- 
mendation of their own righteousness, as by the just and 
merited condemnation of their adversaries ; or that, even with- 
out any comparison with others, while they examine them- 
selves before God, the purity of their consciences affords them 
some consolation and confidence. To the former of these rea- 
sons we shall advert hereafter ; let us now briefly examine 
the consistency of the latter with what we have before asserted, 
that in the sight of God we ought to place no reliance on the 
merit of works, nor glory on account of them. The con- 
sistency appears in this — that for the foundation and accom- 
plishment of their salvation, the saints look to the Divine good- 
ness alone, without any regard to works. And they not only 
apply themselves to it above all things, as the commencement 
of their happiness, but likewise depend upon it as the con- 
summation of their felicity. A conscience thus founded, built 
up, and established, is also confirmed by the consideration of 
works ; that is, as far as they are evidences of God dwelling 
and reigning in us. Now, this confidence of works being found 
in none but those who have previously cast all the confidence 
of then- souls en the mercy of God, it ought not to be thought 
contrary to that upon which it depends. Wherefore, when we 
exclude the confidence of works, we only mean that the mind 
of a Christian should not be directed to any merit of works as a 
mean of salvation ; but should altogether rely on the gratuitous 
promise of righteousness. We do not forbid him to support 
and confirm this faith by marks of the Divine benevolence to 
Kini. For if, when we call to remembrance the various gifts 
Whicli God has conferred on us, they are all as so many rays 
from the Divine countenance, by which we are illuminated to 
contemplate the full blaze of supreme goodness, — much mire 
the grace of good works, which demonstrates that we hav« 
receiv<^d the Spirit of adoption. 

XIX. When the samts, therefore, confirm their faith, or 



CHAP. XIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 19 

derive matter of rejoicing from the integrity of their con- 
sciences, the}^ only concUide, from the fruits of vocation, that 
they have be3n adopted by the Lord as his children. The de- 
claration of Solomon, that " In the fear of the Lord is strong 
confidence ; " (h) and the protestation sometimes used by the 
saints to obtain a favourable audience from the Lord, that 
"they have walked before " him " in truth and with a perfect 
heart ; " (i) these things have no concern in laying the foun- 
iation for establishing the conscience ; nor are they of any 
value, except as they are consequences of the Divine vocation. 
For there nowhere exists that fear of God which can establish 
a full assurance, and the saints are conscious that their integrity 
is yet accompanied with many relics of corruption. But as 
the fruits of regeneration evince that the Holy Spirit dwells in 
them, this affords them ample encouragement to expect the as- 
sistance of God in all their necessities, because they experience 
him to be their Father in an affair of such vast importance. 
And even this they cannot attain, unless they have first appre- 
hended the Divine goodness, confirmed by no other assurance 
but that of the promise. For if they begin to estimate it by 
their good works, nothing will be weaker or more uncertain ; 
for, if their works be estimated in themselves, their imperfection 
will menace them with the wrath of God, as much as their 
purity, however incomplete, testifies his benevolence. In a 
word, they declare the benefits of God, but in such a way as 
not to turn away from his gratuitous favour, in which Paul as- 
sures us there is " length, and breadth, and depth, and height ; " 
as though he had said. Which way soever the pious turn their 
views, how high soever they ascend, how widely soever they 
expatiate, yet they ought not to go beyond the love of Christ, 
but employ themselves wholly in meditating on it, because it 
comprehends in itself all dimensions. Therefore he says that it 
" passeth knowledge," and that when we know how much 
Christ has loved us, we are " filled with all the fulness of 
God." {k) So also in another place, when he glories that 
believers are victorious in every conflict, he immediately adds, 
as the reason of it, "through him that loved us." (l) 

XX. We see now, that the confidence which the saints 
have in their works is not such as either ascribes any thing to 
the merit of them, (since they view them only as the gifts of 
God, in which !hey acknowledge his goodness, and as marks 
jf their calling, whence they infer their election,) or derogates 
the least from the gratuitous righteousness which we obtain in 
Clirist ; since it depends upon it, and cannot subsist without it 



(A) Prov. xiv. 26. (k) Ephes. iii. 18, 19. 

(0 2 K Mga XI. 3 ('\ Rom. viii. 37. 



20 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IIL 

This is concisely and beautifully represented by Augustine, 
when he says, " I do not say to the Lord, I'espise not the 
works of my hands. I have sought the Lord with my hands, 
and I have not been deceived. But I commend not the works 
of my hands ; for I fear that when thou hast examined them, 
thou wilt find more sin than merit. This only I say, this I 
ask, this I desire ; Despise not the works of thy hands. Be- 
hold in me thy work, not mine. For if thou beholdest mine, 
thou condemnest me : if thou beholdest thine own, thou 
crownest me. Because whatever good works I have, they are 
from thee." He assigns two reasons why he ventured not to 
boast of his works to God ; first, that if he has any good ones, 
he sees nothing of his own in them ; secondly, that even these 
are buried under a multitude of sins. Hence the conscience 
experiences more fear and consternation than security. There- 
fore he desires God to behold his best performances, only that 
he may recognize in them the grace of his own calling, and 
perfect the work which he has begun. 

XXL The remaining objection is, that the Scripture repre- 
sents the good works of believers as the causes for which 
the Lord blesses them. But this must be understood so as not 
to affect what we have before proved, that the efiicient cause 
of our salvation is the love of God the Father ; the material 
cause, the obedience of the Son ; the instrumental cause, the 
illumination of the Spirit, that is, faith ; and the final cause, 
the glory of the infinite goodness of God. No obstacle arises 
from these things to prevent good works being considered by 
the Lord as inferior causes. But how does this happen ? Be- 
cause those whom his mercy has destined to the inheritance of 
eternal life, he, in his ordinary dispensations, introduces to the 
possession of it by good works. That which, in the order of his 
dispensations, precedes, he denominates the cause of that which 
follows. For this reason he sometimes deduces eternal life 
from works ; not that the acceptance of it is to be referred to 
them ; but because he justifies the objects of his election, that 
he may finally glorify them ; he makes the former favour, 
which is a step to the succeeding one, in some sense the cause 
of it. But whenever the true cause is to be assigned, he does 
not direct us to take refuge in works, but confines our thoughts 
( ntirely to his mercy. For what does he teach us by the 
apostle ? " The wages of sin is death ; but the gift of God is 
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Why does he not 
oppose righteousness to sin, as well as life to death ? Why 
does he not make righteousness the cause of life, as well as sin 
the caiise of death ? For then the antithesis would have been 
complete, whereas by this variation it is partly destroyed. But 
the apostle intended by tl s comparison to express a certain 



CHAP. XV.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 21 

truth — that death is due to the demerits of men, and that life 
proceeds solely iVom the mercy of God. Lastly, these phrases 
denote rather the order of the Divine gifts, than the canse of 
Them. In the accumulation of graces upon graces, God derives 
from the former a reason for adding the next, that he may not 
omit any thing necessary to the enrichment of his servants. 
And while he >hus pursues his liberahty, he would have us 
always to remember his gratuitous election, which is the 
source and original of all. For although he loves the gifts 
which he daily confers, as emanations from that fountain, yet 
it is our duty to adhere to that gratuitous acceptance, which 
alone can support our souls, and to connect the gifts of his 
Spirit, which he afterwards bestows on us, with the first cause, 
in such a manner as will not be derogatory to it. 



CHAPTER XV. 

BOASTING OF THE MERIT OF WORKS, EQUALLY SUBVERSIVE OF 
god's GLORT in the gift OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND OF THE 
CERTAINTY OF SALVATION. 

We have now discussed the principal branch of this subject ; 
that because righteousness, if dependent on works, must inevi- 
tably be confounded in the sight of God, therefore it is con- 
tained exclusively in the mercy of God and the participation 
of Christ, and consequently in faith alone. Now, it must be 
carefully remarked that this is the principal hinge on which the 
argument turns, that we may not be implicated in the common 
delusion, which equally affects the learned and the vulgar. 
For as soon as justification by faith or works becomes the sub- 
ject of inquiry, they have immediate recourse to those |>assages 
which seem to attribute to works some degree of merit in the 
sight of God ; as though justification by works would be fully 
evinced, if they could be proved to be of any value before 
God. We have already clearly demonstrated that the right- 
eousness of works consists only in a perfect and complete ob- 
servance of the law. Whence it follows, that no man is justified 
by works, but he who, being elevated to the summit of perfec- 
tion, cannot be convicted even of the least transgression. This, 
therefore, is a different and separate question, whether, although 
works be utterly insufficient for the justification of men, they 
d<i not, nevertheless, merit the grace of God. 



22 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

II. In the first place, with respect to the term 7ier«Y, it is 
necessary for me to premise, that whoever first applied it to 
human works, as compared with the Divine judgment, showed 
very little concern for the purity of the faith. I gladly abstain 
from all controversies about mere words ; but I could wish that 
this sobriety had always been observed by Christian writers, 
that they had avoided the unnecessary adoption of terms not 
used in the Scriptures, and calculated to produce great offence, 
but very little advantage. For what necessity was there for 
the introduction of the word merit^ when the value of good 
works might be significantly expressed without offence by a 
different term ? But the great offence contained in it, appears 
in the great injury the world has received from it. The con- 
summate haughtiness of its import can only obscure the Divine 
grace, and taint the minds of men with presumptuous arro- 
gance. I confess, the ancient writers of the Church have 
generally used it, and I wish that their misuse of one word had 
not been the occasion of error to posterity. Yet they also de- 
clare in some places that they did not intend any thing preju- 
dicial to the truth. For this is the language of Augustine \\\ 
one passage : " Let human merit, which was lost by Adam, 
here be silent, and let the grace of God reign through Jesus 
Christ." Again: "The saints ascribe nothing to their own 
merits; they will ascribe all, O God, only to thy mercy." Id 
another place : " And when a man sees that whatever good he 
has, he has it not from himself, but from his God, he sees that 
all that is commended in him proceeds not from his own merits, 
but from the Divine mercy." We see how, by divesting man 
of the power of performing good actions, he likewise destroys* 
the dignity of merit. Chrysostom says, " Our works, if there 
be any consequent on God's gratuitous vocation, are a retribu- 
tion and a debt ; but the gifts of God are grace, beneficence, 
and immense liberality." Leaving the name, however, let us 
rather attend to the thing. I have before cited a passage from 
Bernard : " As not to presume on our merits is sufficiently 
meritorious, so to be destitute of merits is sufficient for the 
judgment." But by the explanation immediately annexed, he 
y^roperly softens the harshness of these expressions, when b*^ 
says, " Therefore you should be concerned to have merits ; and 
if you have them you should know that they are given to you ; 
you should hopt for the fruit, the mercy of God ; and you 
have escaped all ianger of poverty, ingratitude, and presump- 
tion. Happy the Church which is not destitute, either of 
merits without presumption, or of presumption without merits." 
And just before he had fully shown how pious his meaning 
was. " For concerning merits," he says, " why should the 
Church be solicitous, which has a more firm and secure founda- 



CHAP. XV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 23 

tion for glorying in the purpose of God ? For God caiinot 
deny himself; he will perform what he has promised, "^['hns 
you have no reason for inquiring, on account of what merits 
we may hope for blessings, especially when you read, ' Not for 
your sakes, but for my sake ; ' (m) it is sufficiently meritorious 
to know that merits are insufficient." 

III. The Scripture shows what all our works are capable of 
meriting, when it represents them as unable to bear the Divine 
scrutiny, because they are full of impurity ; and in the next 
place, what would be merited by the perfect observance of the 
law, if this could any where be found, when it directs us, 
" When ye shall have done all those things which are com- 
manded you, say, We are unprofitable servants ; " (n) because 
we shall not have conferred any favour on God, but only have 
performed the duties incumbent on us, for which no thanks are 
due. Nevertheless, the good works which the Lord has con- 
ferred on us, he denominates our own, and declares that he 
will not only accept, but also reward them. It is our duty to 
be animated by so great a promise, and to stir up our minds 
that we •'■ be not weary in well doing," (o) and to be truly 
grateful for so great an instance of Divine goodness. It is 
beyond a doubt, that whatever is laudable in our works pro- 
ceeds from the grace of God ; and that we cannot properly 
ascribe the least portion of it to ourselves. If we truly and 
seriously acknowledge this truth, not only all confidence, but 
likewise all idea of merit, immediately vanishes. We, I say, 
do not, like the sophists, divide the praise of good works be- 
tween God and man, but we preserve it to the Lord complete, 
entire, and uncontaminated. All that we attribute to man, is, 
that those works which were otherwise good are tainted and 
polluted by his impurity. For nothing proceeds from the most 
perfect man, which is wholly immaculate. Therefore let the 
Lord sit in judgment on the best of human actions, and he 
will indeed recognize in them his own righteousness, but man's 
disgrace and shame. Good works, therefore, are pleasing to 
God, and not unprofitable to the authors of them ; and tb^y 
will moreover receive the most ample blessings from God as 
their reward; not because they merit them, but because trie 
Divine goodness has freely appointed them this reward. But 
what wickedness is it, not to be content with that Divine 
liberality which remunerates works destitute of merit with 
unmerited rewards, but with sacrilegious ambition still to aim 
at more, that what entirely originates in the Divine munifi- 
cence may appear to be a compensation of the merit of works ' 
Here I appeal to the common sense of every man. If he who, 

m) Ezek. xxxvi. 32. (») Luke xvii. 10. (o) Gal. vi. 9. 2 Thess. iii. 13 



'25 INSTITUTES OF THE |bOOK lir. 

by the liberality of another, enjoys the use and profit of an 
estate, usurp to luniself also the title of proprietor, does hf 
not by such ingratitude deserve to lose the possession which he 
had? So also if a slave, manumitted by his master, conceal 
his mean condition as a freed-man, and boast that he was free 
by birth, does he not deserve to be reduced to his former 
servitude ? For this is the legitimate way of enjoying a benefit, 
if we neither arrogate more than is given us, nor defraud our 
benefactor of his due praise ; but, on the contrary, conduct 
ourselves in such a manner, that what he has conferred on us 
may appear, as it were, to continue with himself If this 
moderation ought to be observed towards men, let every one 
examine and consider what is due to God. 

IV. I know that the sophists abuse some texts m order to 
prove that the term merit is found in the Scriptures with refer- 
v/ ence to God. They cite a passage from Ecclesiasticus : " Mercy 

shall make place for every man according to the merit of his 
works." (p) And from the Epistle to the Hebrews: " To do 
good, and to communicate, forget not ; for with such sacrifices 
men merit of God."(g') My right to reject the authority of 
Ecclesiasticus I at present relinquish ; but I deny that they 
faithfully cite the words of the writer of Ecclesiasticus, who- 
ever he might be ; for in the Greek copy it is as follows : 
Ilarfii eXsrifAotfuvT] '!foir\(fei Tonfov haffToe yap xara ra spya aurou supT^rfei. 
" He shall make place for every mercy ; and every man shall 
find according to his works." And that this is the genuine 
reading, which is corrupted in the Latin version, appears both 
from the complexion of the words themselves and from the 
preceding context. In the passage quoted from the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, there is no reason why they should endeavour to 
insnare us by a single word, when the apostle's words in the 
Greek imply nothing more than that " with such sacrifices God 
is well pleased." This alone ought to be abundantly sufficient 
to repress and subdue the insolence of our pride, that we trans- 
gress not the scriptural rule by ascribing any dignity to human 
works. Moreover, the doctrine of the Scripture is, that our 
good works are perpetually defiled with many blemishes, which 
might justly oftend God and incense him against us ; so far are 
they from being able to conciliate his favour, or to excite his 
beneficence towards us ; yet that, because in his great mercy 
he does not examine them according to the rigour of his justice, 
he accepts them as though they were immaculately pure, and 
therefore rcAvards them, though void of all merit, with infinite 
blessings both in this life and in that which is to come. For I 
cannot admit the distinction laid down by some, who are other- 

(p) Ecclus. XVI. 14. (?) Heb. xiii. 16. 



OHAP. XV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 25 

wise men of learning and piety, that good works merit the 
graces which are conferred on us in this life, and that eterna* 
salvation is the reward of faith rlone ; because the Lord almost 
always places the reward of labours and the crown of victory 
in heaven. Besides, to ascribe the accumulation of graces 
upon graces, given us by the Lord, to the merit of works, in 
such a manner as to detract it from grace, is contrary to the 
doctrine of the Scripture. For though Christ says, that '' to 
every one that hath shall be given," and that " the good and 
faithful servant, who hath been faithful over a few things, shall 
be made ruler over many things," (r) yet he likewise shows 
in anothor place, that the improvements of believers are the 
gift£> of his gratuitous kindness. "Ho, every one that thu*st- 
eth," says he, " come ye to the waters, and he that hath no 
money ; come ye, buy, and eat ; yea, come, buy wine and 
milk without money and without price." (s) Whatever, there- 
f?'*e, is now conferred on believers to promote their salvation 
as well as their future blessedness, flows exclusively from the 
beneficence of God ; nevertheless he declares, that both in the 
latter and in the former, he has respect to our works, because, 
to demonstrate the magnitude of his love to us, he dignifies 
with such honour, not only ourselves, but even the gifts which 
he has bestowed on us. 

V. If these points had been handled and digested in proper 
order in former ages, there would never have arisen so many 
debates and dissensions. Paul says, that in erecting the super- 
structure of Christian doctrine, it is necessary to retain that 
foundation which he had laid among the Corinthians, other 
than which no man can lay, which is Jesus Christ, {t) What 
kind of a foundation have we in Christ ? Has he begun our 
salvation, that we may complete it ourselves? and has he 
merely opened a way for us to proceed in by our own powers ? 
By no means ; but, as the apostle before stated, when we ac- 
knowledge him, he is "made unto us righteousness." (m) No 
man, therefore, is properly founded on Christ, but he who has 
complete righteousness in him ; since the apostle says, that he 
was sent, not to assist us in the attainment of righteousness, 
but to be himself our righteousness ; that is to say, that we 
were chosen in him from eternity, before the formation of the 
world, not on account of any merit of ours, but according to 
the purpose of the Divine will ; {7v) that by the death of Christ 
we are redeemed from the sentence of death, and liberated from 
perdition ; (ar) that in him we are adopted as sons and heirs by 
the heavenly Father, (y) to whom we have been reconciled by 

(r) Matt XXV. 21, 29 (s) Isaiah Iv. 1. (0 1 Cor. iii. 10, 11. 

'«) 1 Cor. i. 30. (w) Ephes. i. »— 5. (x) Col i. 14, 20, 21. {y) John i. 18 

VOL. II. 4 



26 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

his blood ; that being committed to his protection, we are not 
in the least danger of perishing ; (z) that being thus ingrafted 
into him, we are already, as it were, partakers of eternal life, 
and entered by hope into the kingdom of God ; and moreover, 
that having obtained such a participation of him, however 
foolish we may be in ourselves, he is our wisdom before God ; 
that however impure we are, he is our purity ; that though we 
are weak and exposed to Satan, yet that power is ours which is 
given to him in heaven and in earth, (a) by which he defeats 
Satan for us, and breaks the gates of hell ; that though we 
still carry about with us a body of death, yet he is our life ; in 
short, that all that is his belongs to us, and that we have every 
thing in him, but nothing in ourselves. On this foundation, I 
say, it is necessary for us to build, if we wish to "grow unto 
a holy temple in the Lord." (6) 

VI. But the world has long been taught a diiferent lesson ; for 
1 know not what good works of morality have been invented to 
render men acceptable to God, before they are ingrafted into 
Christ. As though the Scripture were false in asserting, that 
" he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life." (c) If they 
are destitute of life, how could they generate any cause of life ? 
As though there were no truth in the declaration, that " what- 
V soever is not of faith, is sin ! " (d) as though an evil tree could 
produce good fruits ! But what room have these most pestilent 
sophists left to Christ for the exertion of his power? They 
say that he has merited for us the first grace ; that is, the 
opportunity of meriting ; and that now it is our part not to 
miss the offered opportunity. What extreme impudence and 
impiety ! Who would have expected that any persons profess- 
ing the name of Christ, would presume thus to rob him of his 
power, and almost to trample him under their feet ? It is 
every where testified of him, that all who believe in him are 
justified : (e) these men tell us, that the only benefit received 
from him is, that a way is opened for all men to justify them- 
. selves. But I wish that they had experienced what is con- 
tained in these passages : " He that hath the Son, hath life ; " (/) 
" he that believeth is passed from death unto hfe ; " (g) "jus- 
tified by his grace," that we might "be made heirs of eternal 
life ; " (h) that believers have Christ abiding in them, by whom 
they are united to God ; (i) that they are partakers of his life, 
and sit with him " in heavenly places ; " (k) that they are 
translated into the kingdom of God, and have obtained salva- 
ion ; (1) and innumerable places of similar import. For they 

fz) John X. 28, 29. (d) Rom. xiv. 23. (A) Rom. iii. 24. 

.a) Matt. Mviii. 18. (c) Acts .xiii. 39. (i) 1 John iii. 24 

(i) Ephea. ii. 21. Titus iii. 7. (/) 1 John v. 12. (A) Ephes. ii. 6. 

(c) 1 John V. 12. (g) John v. 24 (i) Col. i. 13 



CHAP. XV,] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 27 

do not signify that by faith in Christ we merely gain the 
ability to attain righteousness or effect our salvation, but that 
both are bestowed on us. Therefore, as soon as we are 
ingrafted into Christ by faith, we are already become sons of 
God, heirs of heaven, partakers of righteousness, possessors of 
life, and (the better to refute their falsehoods) we have attained, 
not the opportunity of meriting, but all the merits of Christ ; 
for they are all communicated to us. 

VII. Thus the Sorbonic schools, those sources of all kinds 
of errors, have deprived us of justification by faith, which is 
the substance of all piety. They grant, indeed, in words, that 
a man is justified by faith formed ; but this they afterwards 
explain to be, because faith renders good works effectual to 
justification ; so that their mention of faith has almost the 
appearance of mockery, since it could not be passed over in 
silence, while the Scripture is so full of it, without exposing 
them to great censure. And not content with this, they rob 
God of part of the praise of good works, and transfer it to man. 
Perceiving that good works avail but little to the exaltation of 
man, and that they cannot properly be denominated merits if 
they be considered as the effects of Divine grace, they derive 
them from the power of free-will ; which is like extracting oil 
from a stone. They contend, that though grace be the princi- 
pal cause of them, yet that this is not to the exclusion of free- 
will, from which all merit originates. And this is maintained 
not only by the latter sophists, but likewise by their master, 
Lombard, whom, when compared with them, we may pro- 
nounce to be sound and sober. Truly wonderful was their 
blindness, with Augustine so frequently in their mouths, not to 
see how solicitously he endeavoured to prevent men from arro- 
gating the least degree of glory on account of good works. 
Before, when we discussed the question of free-will, we cited 
from him some testimonies to this purpose ; and similar 
ones frequently recur in his writings ; as when he forbids us 
ever to boast of our merits, since even they are the gifts of 
God ; and when he says, " that all our merit proceeds from 
grace alone ; that it is not obtained by our sufficiency, but is 
produced entirely by grace," &c. That Lombard was blind to 
the light of Scripture, in which he appears not to have been 
so well versed, need not excite so much surprise. Yet nothing 
could be wished for more explicit, in opposition to him and 
his disciples, than this passage of the apostle ; who, having 
interdicted Christians from all boasting, subjoins as a reason 
why boasting is unlawful, that '• we are his (God's) workman- 
ship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath 
before ordainei that we should walk in them." (w) Sinc« 

(to) Ephes. ii. 10 



28 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

nothi ig good, then, can proceed from us but as we are regene- 
rated, and our regeneration is, without exception, entirely of God 
v/e have no right to arrogate to ourselves the smallest particle 
of our good works. Lastly, while they assiduously inculcate 
good works, they at the same time instruct the consciences of 
men in such a manner, that they can never dare tc ".e confi- 
dent that God is propitious and favourable to their works 
But, on the contrary, our doctrine, without any mention of 
merit, animates the minds of believers with peculiar consola- 
tion, while we teach them that their works are pleasing to 
God, and that their persons are undoubtedly accepted by him. 
And we likewise require, that no man attempt or undertake 
any work without faith ; that is, unless he can previously 
determine, with a certain confidence of mind, that it will be 
pleasing to God. 

VIII. Wherefore let us not suffer ourselves to be seduced 
even a hair's breadth from the only foundation, on which, 
when it is laid, wise architects erect a firm and regular super- 
structure. For if there be a necessity for doctrine and exhor- 
tation, they apprize us, that " for this purpose the Son of God 
was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil ; 
whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin : " (w) " the 
time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will 
of the Gentiles ; " (o) the elect of God are vessels of mercy 
selected to honour, and therefore ought to be cleansed from all 
impurity. (j>) But every thing is said at once, when it is 
shown that Christ chooses such for his disciples as will deny 
themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. [q) He who has 
denied himself, has laid the axe to the root of all evils, that he 
may no longer seek those things which are his own ; he who 
has taken up his cross, has prepared himself for all patience and 
gentleness. But the example of Christ comprehends not only 
these, but all other duties of piety and holiness. He was 
obedient to his Father, even to death ; he was entirely occu- 
pied in performing the works of God ; he aspired with his 
whole soul to promote the glory of his Father ; he laid down 
his life for his brethren ; he both acted and prayed for the 
benefit of his enemies. But if there be need of consolation, 
these passages will afford it in a wonderful degree : " We are 
troubled on every side, yet not distressed ; we are perplexed, 
but not in despair ; persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, 
Hut not destroyed ; always bearing about in the body the 
aying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be 
made manifest in our body." (r) " If we be dead with him, 



in) I John iii. 8, 9, (o) 1 Peter iv. 3. {p) 2 Tim. ii. 20. Rom. ix. Si 

(f) Luke ix. 23. (r) 2 Cor. iv. 8—10. 



CHAP. XVI. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. '29 

we shall also live with him ; if we siiiFer, we shall also reign 
with him." (^) " Being made conformable unto his death ; if 
by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the 
dead." (u) The Father has predestinated all whom he has 
chosen in his Son " to be conformed to his image, that he 
might be the first-born among many brethren ; " and therefore 
" neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, 
shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ 
Jesus ; " (w) but " all things shall work together for good " (x) 
to us, and conduce to our salvation. We do not justify men 
by works before God ; but we say, that all who are of God are 
regenerated and made new creatures, that they may depart 
from the kingdom of sin into the kingdom of righteousness ; 
and that by this testimony they ascertain their vocation, (y) and, 
like trees, are judged by their fruits. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

A REFUTATION OF THE INJURIOUS CALUMNIES OF THE PAPISTS 
AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE. 

The observation with which we closed the preceding chap- 
ter is, of itself, sufficient to refute the impudence of some 
impious persons, who accuse us, in the first place, of destroying 
good works, and seducing men from the pursuit of them, when 
we say that they are not justified by works, nor saved through 
their own merit ; and secondly, of making too easy a road to 
righteousness, when we teach that it consists in the gratuitous 
remission of sins ; and of enticing men, by this allurement, to 
the practice of sin, to which they have naturally too strong a 
propensity. These calumnies, I say, are sufficiently refuted by 
that one observation ; yet I will briefly reply to them both. 
They allege that justification by faith destroys good works. I 
forbear any remarks on the characters of these zealots for good 
works, who thus calumniate us. Let them rail with impunity 
as licentiously as they infest the whole world with the im- 
purity of their lives. They affect to lament that while faith i« 
so magnificently extolled, works are degraded from their proper 
rank. What if they be more encouraged and established .' 
For we never dream either of a faith destitute of good works 

(f) 2 Tim ii. 11, 12. (w) Phil. iii. 10, 11. (w) Rom. viii. 29, J8, 39 

(z) Rom. viii. 28. (y) 2 Peter i. 10. 



30 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

or of a juBtification unattended by them : this is the sole dif- 
ference, that while we acknowledge a necessary connection 
between faith and good works, we attribute justification, not 
to works, but to faith. Our reason for this we can readily 
explain, if we only turn to Christ, towards whom faith is 
directed, and from whom it receives all its virtue. Why, then, 
are we justified by faith ? Because by faith we apprehend the 
righteousness of Christ, which is the only medium of our le- 
conciliation to God. But this you cannot attain, without at the 
same time attaining to sanctification ; for he " is made unto us 
wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemp- 
tion." (z) Christ therefore justifies no one whom he does not 
also sanctify. For these benefits are perpetually and indissolu- 
bly connected, so that whom he illuminates with his wisdom, 
them he redeems ; whom he redeems, he justifies ; whom 
he justifies, he sanctifies. But as the present question re- 
lates only to righteousness and sanctification, let us in- 
sist upon them. We may distinguish between them, but 
Christ contains both inseparably in himself. Do you wish, 
then, to obtain righteousness in Christ ? You must first pos- 
sess Christ ; but you cannot possess him without becoming a 
partaker of his sanctification ; for he cannot be divided. Since, 
then, the Lord affords us the enjoyment of these blessings only 
in the bestowment of himself, he gives them both together, 
and never one without the other. Thus we see how true it is 
that we are justified, not without works, yet not by works ; 
since union with Christ, by which we are justified, contains 
sanctification as well as righteousness. 

II. It is also exceedingly false, that the minds of men are 
seduced from an inclination to virtue, by our divesting them 
of all ideas of merit. Here the reader must just be informed, 
that they impertinently argue from reward to merit, as I shall 
afterwards more fully explain ; because, in fact, they are igno- 
rant of this principle, that God is equally liberal in assigning a 
reward to good works, as in imparting an ability to perform 
them. But this I would rather defer to its proper place. It 
will suffice, at present, to show the weakness of their objection, 
which shall be done two ways. For, first, when they say that 
there will be no concern about the proper regulation of our life 
without a hope of reward being proposed, they altogether de- 
ceive themselves. If they only mean that men serve God in 
expectation of a reward, and hire or sell their services to him, 
they gain but little ; for he will be freely worshipped and 
freely loved, and he approves of that worshipper who, after 
ueing deprived of all hope of receiving any reward, still ceases 

(z) 1 Cor. i. 30. 



CHAP. XVI.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 31 

not to worship him. Besides, if men require to be stimulated, 
it is impossible to urge more forcible argaments than those 
which arise from the end of our redemption and calling ; 
such as the word of God adduces, when it inculcates, that it 
is the greatest and most impious ingratitude not reciprocally to 
''love hun who first loved us; "(a) that ''by the blood of 
Christ our consciences are purged from dead works, to serve 
the living God ; " (b) that it is a horrible sacrilege, after having 
been once purged, to defile ourselves with new pollutions, and 
to profane that sacred blood ; (c) that we have been "delivered 
out of the hand of our enemies," that we "might serve him 
without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the 
days of our life ; " (c?) that we are made "free from sin," 
that with a free spirit we might " become the servants of 
righteousness ; " (e) " that our old man is crucified," that " we 
should walk in newness of life." (/) Again : " If ye be risen 
with Christ," as his members indeed are, " seek those things 
which are above," and conduct yourselves as " pilgrims on the 
earth ; " that you may aspire towards heaven, where your 
treasure is. (g) That " the grace of God hath appeared, 
teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we 
should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present 
world ; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appear- 
ing of the great God and our Saviour." (h) Wherefore "God 
hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by 
Christ." («) That we are the " temples of the Holy Ghost," 
which it is unlawful to profane ; (k) that we are not darkness, 
' but light in the Lord," whom it becomes to " walk as chil- 
dren of the light ; " (/) that " God hath not called us unto 
ancleanness, but unto holiness ; for this is the will of God, 
even our sanctification, that we should abstain from fornica- 
tion ; " (in) that our calling is a holy one, which should be 
followed by a correspondent purity of life ; (n) that we are 
"made free from sin," that we might "become servants of 
righteousness." (o) Can we be incited to charity by any 
stronger argument than that of John, " If God so loved us, we 
ought also to love one another? " " in this the children of God 
are manifest, and the children of the devil ; " (jp) hereby the 
children of light, by their abiding in love, are distinguished from 
the children of darkness ; or that of Paul, That if we be united 
to Christ, we are members of one body, and ought to afford 
each other mutual assistance ? (q) Or can we be more power- 

(a) 1 John iv. 10, 19. (g) Col. iii. 1. Heb. xi. 13. (l) Ephes. v. 8. 

(6) Heb. ii. 14. 1 Peter ii. 11. (m) 1 Thess. iv. 3, 7. 

(c) Heb. X. 29. (h) Titus ii. 11—13. («) 2 Tim. i. 9. 1 Peter i. 15 

Id) Luke i 74, 75. (i) 1 Thess. v. 9. (o) Rom. vi. 18. 

(e) Rom. v; m. (k) 1 Cor. iii. 16,17; vi.l9. (p) 1 John iv. 11 ; iii. 10. 

(/ Rom. VI 4,'6. Ephes. ii. 21. (?) 1 Cor. xii. 12, «&«. 



32 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

fully excited to holiness, than when we are informed by John, 
that "every man that hath this hope in him purifieth him- 
self, even as God is pure ? " (r) Or when Paul says, "Hav- 
ing therefore these promises, (relative to our adoption,) let 
us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and 
spirit ? " (s) or than when we hear Christ proposing himself 
Hs our example, that we should follow his steps ? (t) 

III. These few instances, indeed, I have given as a speci- 
men ; for if I were disposed to quote every particular passage, 
I should produce a large volume. The apostles are quite full 
of admonitions, exhortations, and reproofs, to " furnish the man 
of God unto all good works," (w) and that without any men- 
tion of merit. But they rather deduce their principal exhorta- 
tions from this consideration. That our salvation depends not 
on any merit of ours, but merely on the mercy of God. As 
Paul, after having very largely shown that we can have no 
hope of life, but from the righteousness of Christ, when he 
proceeds to exhortations, beseeches us " by the mercies of 
God " with which we have been favoured, (v) And indeed 
this one reason ought to be enough ; that God may be glori- 
fied in us. (w) But if any persons be not so powerfully af- 
fected by the glory of God, yet the remembrance of his benefits 
should be amply sufficient to incite them to rectitude of con- 
duct. But these men, who by the obtrusion of merit extort 
some servile and constrained acts of obedience to the law, are 
guilty of falsehood when they affirm that we have no argu- 
ments to enforce the practice of good works, because we do 
not proceed in the same way ; as though, truly, such obedi- 
ence were very pleasing to God, who declares that he " loveth 
a cheerful giver ; " and forbids any thing to be given " grudg- 
ingly, or of necessity." (x) Nor do I say this, because I either 
reject or neglect that kind of exhortation, which the Scripture 
frequently uses, that no method of animating us to our duty 
may be omitted. It mentions the reward which " God will 
render to every man according to his works ; " (y) but that 
this is the only argument, or the principal one, I deny. In 
the next place, I assert that we ought not to begin with it. 
Moreover, I contend that it has no tendency to establish the 
merit preached by these men, as we shall afterwards see ; and, 
lastly, that it is entirely useless, unless preceded by this doc- 
trine, That we are justified solely on account of the merit of 
C/hrist, apprehended by faith, and not on account of any merit 
in our own works ; because none can be capable of the pursuit 
■)f holiness, but such as have previously imbibed this doctrine. 

(r) 1 John iii. 3. (w) 2 Tiin. iii. 17 (x) 2 Cor. ix. 7. 

fs) 2 Cor. vii. 1. (») Rom. xii. 1. (tj) Malt. xvi. 27. 

(t) Matt. xi. 29. John xiii. 15. (w) Matt. v. 16. Rom. li 6 



CHAP. XVI.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. S3 

This sentiment is beautifully suggested by the Psahnist w-hen 
he thus addresses the Lord : " There is forgiveness with thee, 
that thou mayest be feared ; " (z) for he shows that there is no 
worship of God without an acknowledgment of his mercy, on 
which alone it is both founded and established. And this well 
deserves to be remarked, in order that we may know, not only 
that the true worship of God arises from a reliance on his 
mercy, but that the fear of God (which the Papists hold to be 
meritorious) cannot be dignified with the title of merit, because 
it is founded in the pardon and remission of sins. 

IV. But the most futile of all their calmnnies is, that men 
are encouraged to the practice of sin by our maintaining the 
gratuitous remission of sins, in which we make righteousness to 
consist. For we say that so great a blessing could never be 
compensated by any virtue of ours, and that therefore it could 
never be obtained, unless it were gratuitously bestowed ; more- 
over, that it is gratuitous to us indeed, but not so to Christ, 
whom it cost so much, even his own most sacred blood, beside 
which no price sufficiently valuable could be paid to Divine 
justice. When men are taught in this manner, they are ap- 
prized that it is not owing to them that this most sacred blood 
is not shed as often as they sin. Besides, we learn that such 
is our pollution, that it can never be washed away, except in 
the fountain of this immaculate blood. Must not persons who 
hear these things conceive a greater horror of sin, than if it 
were said to be cleansed by a sprinkling of good works ? And 
if they have any fear of God, will they not dread, after being 
once purified, to plunge themselves again into the mire, and 
thereby to disturb and infect, as far as they can, the purity of 
this fountain? "I have washed my feet," (says the believing 
soul in Solomon,) " how shall I defile them? " (a) Now, it is 
plain which party better deserves the charge of degrading the 
value of remission of sins, and prostituting the dignity of 
righteousness. They pretend that God is appeased by their 
frivolous satisfactions, which are no better than dung ; we 
assert, that the guilt of sin is too atrocious to be expiated by 
such insignificant trifles ; that the displeasure of God is too 
great to be appeased by these worthless satisfactions ; and 
therefore that this is the exclusive prerogative of the blood of 
Christ. They say, that righteousness, if it ever be defective, 
is restored and repaired by works of satisfaction. We think it 
so valuable that no compensation of works can be adequate to 
it : and therefore that for its restitution we must have recourse 
to the mercy of God alone. The remaining particulars that 
pertain to the remission of sins may bs found in the next 
chapter. 

(z) Psalm cxxx. 4. (a) Cant. v. 3 

VOL. II. 5 



\ 



34 INSTITUTES OF THE 



CHAPTER X7II. 

THX HABMO^^ BETWEEN THE PROMISES OF THE LAW ANB 

THOSE OF THE GOSPEL. 

Let us now pursue the other arguments with which Satan by 
his satellites attempts to destroy or to weaken justification by 
faith. I think we have already gained this point with these 
calumniators — that they can no longer accuse us of being ene- 
mies to good works. For we reject the notion of justification 
by works, not that no good works may be done, or that those 
which are performed may be denied to be good, but that we 
may neither confide in them, nor glory in them, nor ascribe 
salvation to them. For this is our trust, this is our glory, and 
the only anchor of our salvation. That Christ the Son of God is 
I ours, and that we are likewise, in him, sons of God and heirs 
f of the celestial kingdom : being called, not for our worthiness, 
tut by the Divine goodness, to the hope of eternal felicity. 
But since they assail us besides, as we have observed, with 
other weapons, let us also proceed to the repulsion of them. 
In the first place, they return to the legal promises which the 
Lord gave to the observers of his law, and inquire whether we 
suppose them to be entirely vain, or of any validity. As it 
would be harsh and ridiculous to say they are vain, they take 
it for granted that they have some efficacy. Hence they 
argue, that we are not justified by faith alone. For thus saith 
the Lord, " Wherefore it shall come to peiss, if ye hearken to 
these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord thy 
God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he 
sware unto thy fathers ; and he will love thee, and bless thee, 
and multiply thee." (6) Again : '■'• If ye thoroughly amend 
your ways and your doings ; if ye thoroughly execute j.idg- 
ment between a man and his neighbour ; if ye oppress not, 
neither walk after other gods ; then will I cause you to dwell 
in this place," &c. (c) I am not willing to recite a thousand pas- 
sages of the same kind, which, not being different in sense, will 
be elucidated by an explanation of these. The sum of all is 
declared by Moses, who says that in the law are proposed " a 
blessing and a curse, life and death." [d) Now, they argue, 
either t.iat this blessing beco.mes inefficacious and nugatory, or 
that justification is not by faith alone. We have already 
shown how, if we adhere to the law, being destitute of every 

(ft) Deut vii. 12, 13. (c) Jer. vii. 5—7. (d) Deut. xi. 26 •, xxx. 15. 



CHAP. XVII.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 35 

blessing, we are obnoxious to the curse which is denounced on 
all transgressors. For the Lord promises nothing, except to 
the perfect observers of his law, of which description not one 
can be found. The consequence then is, that all mankind are 
proved by the law tc be obnoxious to the curse and wrath of 
God ; in order to be saved from which, they need deliverance 
from the power of the law, and emancipation from its servi- 
tude ; not a carnal liberty, which would seduce us from obedi- 
ence to the law, invite to all kinds of licentiousness, break 
down the barriers of inordinate desire, and give the reins to 
every lawless passion ; but a spiritual liberty, which will con- 
sole and elevate a distressed and dejected conscience, showing 
it to be delivered from the curse and condemnation under 
which it was held by the law. This liberation from subjection 
to the law, and manumission, (if I may use the term.) we 
attain, when we apprehend by faith the mercy of God in 
Christ, by which we are assured of the remission of sins, by 
the sense of which the law penetrated us with compunction 
and remorse. 

II. For this reason all the promises of the law would be 
ineffectual and vain, unless we were assisted by the goodness 
of God in the gospel. For the condition of a perfect obe- 
dience to the law, on which they depend, and in consequence 
of wh'ch alone they are to be fulfilled, will never be performed. 
Now, the Lord affords this assistance, not by leaving a part of 
righteousness in our works, and supplying part from his mercy, 
but by appointing Christ alone for the completion of right- 
eousness. For the apostle, having said that he and other Jews, 
" knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, 
believed in Christ," adds as a reason, not that they might be 
assisted to obtain a comijlete righteousness by faith in Christ, 
but " that they might be justified by the faith of Christ, and 
not by the works of the law." (e) If the faithful pass from the 
law to faith, to find righteousness in the latter, which they 
perceive to be wanting in the former, they certainly renounce 
the righteousness of the law. Therefore let whosoever will 
now amplify the rewards which are said to await the observer 
of the law ; only let him remark, that our depravity prevents 
us from receiving any benefit from them, till we have obtained 
by faith another righteousness. Thus David, after having 
mentioned the reward which the Lord has prepared for his 
servants, immediately proceeds to the acknowledgment of sins, 
by which it is annulled. In the nineteenth psalm, likewise, he 
magnificently celebrates the benefits of the law ; but imme- 
diately exclaims "Who can understand his errors? cleanse 

(e) Gal. ii. 16 



36 INSTITUTES OF THE TboOK H. 

thou me from secret faults." (/) This passage perfectly ac- 
cords with that before referred to, where, after having said, 
"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such eis 
keep his covenant and his testimonies," he adds, " For thy 
name's sake, O Lord, pardon mme iniquity ; for it is great." (g) 
So we ought also to acknowledge, that the Divine favour is 
offered to us in the law, if we could purchase it by our works ; 
but that no merit of ours can ever obtain it. 

in. What, then, it will be said, were those promises given, to 
vanish away without producing any effect ? I have already 
declared that this is not my opinion. I assert, indeed, that 
they have no efficacy with respect to us as long as they are 
referred to the merit of works ; wherefore, considered in them- 
selves, they are in some sense abolished. Thus that grand 
promise, " Keep my statutes and judgments ; which if a man 
do, he shall live in them ; " (A) the apostle mainmins to be of 
no value to us, if we rest upon it, and that it will be no more 
beneficial to us than if it had never been given ; because it is 
inapplicable to the holiest of God's servants, who are all far 
from fulfilling the law, and are encompassed with a multitude of 
transgressions, (i) But when these are superseded by the evan- 
gelical promises, which proclaim the gratuitous remission of 
sins, the consequence is, that not only our persons, but also our 
works, are accepted by God ; and not accepted only, but fol- 
lowed by those blessings, which were due by the covenant 
to the observance of the law. I grant, therefore, that the 
works of believers are rewarded by those things which the 
Lord has promised in his law to the followers of righteousness 
and holiness ; but in this retribution it is always necessary to 
consider the cause, which conciliates such favour to those 
works. Now, this we perceive to be threefold : The first is. 
That God, averting his eyes from the actions of his servant?, 
which are invariably more deserving of censure than of praise, 
receives and embraces them in Christ, and by the intervention 
of faith alone reconciles them to himself without the assistance 
of works. The second is, That in his paternal benignity and 
indulgence, he overlooks the intrinsic worth of these works, 
and exalts them to such honour, that he esteems them of some 
degree of value. The third cause is. That he pardons these 
works as he receives them, not imputing the imperfection with 
vvhich they are all so defiled, that they might otherwise be 
accounted rather sins than virtues. Hence it appears how 
great has been the delusion of the sophists, who thought that 
they had dexterously avoided all absurdities by saying that 
works are sufficient to merit salvation, not on account of their 

(/) Psalm xix 12. (//) Lev. xviii. 5. 

(g) Psalm XXV. 10, 11 (i) Ron x. 5. &c. 



CHAP. XVII. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 37 

own intrinsic goodness, bnt by reason of the covenant, because 
the Lord in his mercy has estimated them so highly. But at 
the same time, they had not observed how far the works, 
which they styled merit(>rious, fell short of the condition of the 
promise ; unless they were preceded by justification founded 
on faith alone, and by remission of sins, by which even good 
works require to be purified from blemishes. Therefore, of the 
three causes of the Divine goodness, in consequence of which 
the works of believers are accepted, they only noticed one, 
and suppressed two others, and those the principal. 

IV. They allege the declaration of Peter, which Luke recites 
in the Acts : " Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of 
persons ; but in every nation he that worketh righteousness is 
accepted with him." [k] And hence they conclude, what 
ihey think admits of no doubt, that if a man by rectitude of 
conduct conciliate to himself the favour of God, the grace oi 
God is not the sole cause of his salvation ; moreover, that Goa 
of his own mercy assists a sinner in such a manner, as to be 
influenced to the exercise of mercy by his works. But we 
cannot by any means reconcile the Scriptures with themselves, 
unless we observe a twofold acceptance of man with God. 
For God finds nothing in man, in his native condition, to 
incline him to mercy, but mere misery. If, then, it is evident 
that man is entirely destitute of all good, and full of every kind 
of evil, when he is first received by God, by what good qualities 
shall we pronounce him entitled to the heavenly calling ? Let 
us reject, therefore, all vain imagination of merits, where God 
so evidently displays his unmerited clemency. The declaration 
of the angel to Cornelius in the same passage, " Thy prayers 
and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God," 
they most wickedly pervert to prove that the practice of good 
works prepares a man to receive the grace of God. Foi 
Cornelius must have been already illuminated with the Spirit 
of wisdom, since he was endued with the fear of God, which 
is true wisdom ; and he must have been sanctified by the same 
Spirit, since he was a follower of righteousness, which the 
apostle represents as one of the Spirit's most certain frmts. (/) 
It was from the grace of God, then, that he derived all these 
things in which he is said to have pleased him ; so far was he 
from preparing himself to receive it by the exercise of his own 
powers. There cannot indeed be adduced a single syllable of the 
Scripture, which is not in harmony with this doctrine ; That there 
is no other cause for God's reception of man into his love, than 
his knowledge that man, if abandoned by him, would be utterly 
lo.«t ; and becau.s3 it is not his w?r to abandon him to perdition, 

(k) Acts X. 34, 35. (/) Ga v. 5 



38 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

he displays his mercy in his deliverance. IN dw, ve see that 
this acceptance is irrespective of the righteousness of man, but 
is an unequivocal proof of the Divine goodness towards mise- 
rable sinners, who are infinitely unworthy of so great a favour. 
V. After the Lord has recovered a man from the abyss of 
perdition, and separated him to himself by the grace of adop- 
tion, — because he has regenerated him, and raised him to a new 
life, he now receives and embraces him, as a new creature, with 
the gifts of his Spirit. This is the acceptance mentioned by 
Peter, in which even the works of believers after their voca- 
tion are approved by God ; for the Lord cannot but love and 
accept those good effects which are produced in them by his 
Spirit. But it must always be remembered, that they are 
accepted by God in consequence of their works, only because, 
for their sakes and the favour which he bears to them, he 
deigns to accept whatever goodness he has liberally communi- 
cated to their works. For whence proceeds the goodness of 
their works, but from the Lord's determination to adorn with 
true purity those whom he has chosen as vessels of honour ? 
And how is it that they are accounted good, as though they 
were free from all imperfection, except from the mercy of their 
Father, who pardons the blemishes which adhere to them ? In 
a word, Peter intends nothing else in this passage, but that God 
accepts and loves his children, in whom he beholds the marks 
and lineaments of his own countenance ; for we have elsewhere 
shown that regeneration is a reparation of the Divine image in 
us. Wherever the Lord contemplates his own likeness, he 
justly both loves and honours it. The life of his children, 
therefore, being devoted to holiness and righteousness, is truly 
represented as pleasing to him. But as the faithful, while they 
are surrounded with mortal flesh, are still sinners, and all their 
works are imperfect, and tainted with the vices of the flesh, he 
cannot be propitious either to their persons or to their works, 
without regarding them in Christ rather than in themselves 
It is in this sense that those passages must be understood, 
which declare God to be merciful and compassionate to the 
followers of righteousness. Moses said to the Israelites, "The 
Lord thy God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them 
that love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand 
generations " {m) — a sentence which was afterwards in frequent 
use among that people. Thus Solomon, in his solemn prayer: 
" Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant and mercy with 
thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart." («) 
The same language is also repeated by Nehemiah. (o) For as, 
m all the covenants of his mercy, the Lord stipulates with his 

(m) Deut. vii. 9. («) 1 Kings viii. 23. (o) Neh i. E. 



CHAP. XVII. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 39 

servants for iiilegrity and sanctity in their lives, that his good- 
ness may not become an object of contempt, and that no man 
infected with a vain confidence in his mercy, (p) may bless 
himself in his mind while walking in the depravity of his 
heart, so he designs by these means to confine to their duty 
all that are admitted to the participation of his covenant ; yet, 
nevertheless, the covenant is originally constituted and perpetu- 
ally remains altogether gratuitous. For this reason, David, 
though he declares that he had been rewarded for the purity of 
his hands, does not overlook that original source which I have 
mentioned : " He delivered me. because he delighted in me ; " (q) 
where he commends the goodness of his cause, so as not to 
derogate from the gratuitous mercy which precedes all the 
gifts that originate from it. 

VI. And here it will be useful to remark, by the way, what 
difference there is between such forms of expression and the 
legal promises. By legal promises I intend, not all those which 
are contained in the books of Moses, — since in those books there 
likewise occur many evangelical ones, — but such as properly 
pertain to the ministry of the law. Such promises, by what- 
ever appellation they may be distinguished, proclaim that a 
reward is ready to be bestowed, on condition that we perform 
what is commanded. But when it is said that " the Lord 
keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him," this ,| 
rather designates the characters of his servants, who have faith- j 
fully received his covenant, than expresses the causes of his>' 
beneficence to them. Now, this is the way to prove it : As the 
Lord favours us with the hope of eternal life, in order that he 
may be loved, reverenced, and worshipped by us, therefore all 
the promises of mercy contained in the Scriptures are justly 
directed to this end, that we may revere and worship the 
Author of our blessings. Whenever, therefore, we hear of his 
beneficence to them who observe his laws, let us remember that 
the children of God are designated by the duty in which they 
ought always to be found ; and that we are adopted as his chil- 
dren, in order that we may venerate him as our Father. There- 
fore, that we may not renounce the privilege of our adoption, 
we ought to aim at that which is the design of our vocation. 
On the other hand, however, we may be assured, tlat the 
accomplishment of God's mercy is independent of the works 
of believers ; but that he fulfils the promise of salvation to 
them whose vocation is followed by a correspondent rectitude 
of life, because in them who are directed by his Spirit to good 
works, he recognizes the genuine characters of his children. 
To til is must be referred what is said of the citizens of the 

(;») Deut. xxix. 19, 20. (7) 2 Sam. xxVi. 20, 21. 



40 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

Church : " Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? who shall 
dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and 
worketh righteousness, " &c. (r) And in Isaiah : '' Who shall 
dwell with the devouring fire ? He that walketh righteously, 
and speaketh uprightly," &,c. (s) For these passages describe, 
not the foundation which supports the faithful before God, but 
the manner in which their most merciful Father introduces 
thorn into communion with him, and preserves and confirms 
them in it. For as he detests sin, and loves righteousness 
those whom he unites to him he purifies by his Spirit, in order 
to conform them to himself and his kingdom. Therefore, if it 
be inquired what is the first cause which gives the saints an 
entrance into the kingdom of God, and which makes their 
continuance in it permanent, the answer is ready ; Because 
the Lord in his mercy has once adopted and perpetually 
defends them. But if the question relate to the manner in 
which he does this, it will then be necessary to advert to 
regeneration and its fruits, which are enumerated in the psalm 
that we have just quoted. 

Vn. But there appears to be much greater difficulty in those 
places which dignify good works with the title of righteous- 
ness, and assert that a man is justified by them. Of the former 
kind there are many, where the observance of the commands 
is dLQWovamaiiedL justification or righteousness. An example of 
the other kind we find in Moses : '' And it shall be our right- 
eousness, if we observe to do all these commandments." (/) If 
it be objected that this is a legal promise, which, having an 
impossible condition annexed to it, proves nothing, — there are 
other passages which will not admit of a similar reply ; such 
as, " In case thou shalt deliver him the pledge, &c., it shall be 
righteousness unto thee before the Lord." {u) Similar to this 
is what the Psalmist says, that the zeal of Phinehas in aveng- 
ing the disgrace of Israel, " was counted unto him for right- 
eousness." {id) Therefore the Pharisees of our day suppose 
that these passages afford ample ground for their clamour 
agahist us. For when we say, that if the righteousness of 
faith be established, there is an end of justification by works, — 
they argue, in the same manner, that if righteousness be by 
works, then it is not true that we are justified by faith alone. 
Though I grant that the precepts of the law are termed right- 
eousness, there is nothing surprising in this ; for they are so in 
reality. The reader, however, ought to be apprized that the 
Hebrew word cD'pn [commandments) is not well translated by 
the Greek word ^ixaiw^Aara, {righteousness. ) But I readily relin- 



(r) Psalm rev. 1, -J. (.?) Isaiah xxxiii. 14, 15. {t) Deut. vi. 25 

(u) Deut. xxiv. Ki. (?<') Psahn cvi P-O, 31. 



CHAl-. XVU.J CHRISTIAN UP.HGIOX. 41 

f[uish all controversy re.'pectiiig the word. Nor do we deny 
that the Divine law coiijains perfect righteousness. For al- 
though, being under an obligation to fulfil all its precepts, we 
should, even after a perfect obedience to it, only be unprofitable 
servants, — yet, since the Lord has honoured the observance of 
it with the ti le of righteousness, we would not detract from 
what he has given. We freely acknowledge, therefore, that 
the perfect obedience of the law is righteousness, and that the 
observance of every particular command is a part of righteous- 
ness ; since complete righteousness consists of all the parts. 
But we deny that such a kind of righteousness any where ex- 
ists. And therefore we reject the righteousness of the law ; 
not that it is of itself defective and mutilated, but because, on 
account of the debility of our flesh, [x) it is no where to be 
found. It may be said, that the Scripture not only calls the 
Divine precepts righteousnesses, but gives this appellation also to 
the works of the saints. As where it relates of Zacharias and 
his wife, that " they were both righteous before God, walking in 
all his commandments : " (y) certainly, when it speaks thus, it 
estimates their works rather according to the nature of the law, 
than according to the actual condition of the persons. Here it is 
necessary to repeat the observation which I have just made, 
that no rule is to be drawn from the incautiousness of the 
Greek translator. But as Luke has not thought proper to alter 
the common version, neither will 1 contend for it. Those 
things which are commanded in the law, God has enjoined 
upon man as necessary to righteousness ; but that righteousness 
we do not fulfil without observing the whole law, which is 
broken by every act of transgression. Since the law, there- 
fore, only prescribes a righteousness, if we contemplate the 
law itself, all its distinct commands are parts of righteousness : 
if we consider men, by whom they are performed, they cannot 
obtain the praise of righteousness from one act, while they are 
transgressors in many, and whih that same act is partly vicious 
by reason of its imperfection. 

VIII. But I proceed to the second class of texts, in which 
the principal difficulty lies. Paul urges nothing more forcible 
in proof of justification by faith, than what is stated respecting 
Abraham — that he "believed God, audit was counted unto 
him for righteousness." (z) Since the action of Phinehas, 
therefore, is said to have been "counted unto him for right- 
eousness," (a) we may also use the same argument concerning 
works, which Paul insists on respecting faith. Therefore our 
adversa.-ies, as though they had established the point, determine 

(x) Rom. viii. 3. (z) Rom. iv. 3. Gal. iii. 6 

ly) Luke i. 6. (a) Psalm cvi. 31, 

VOL. II. 6 



42 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IIL 

that we are justified neither without faith, nor by faith alone ; 
and that our righteousness is completed by works. Therefore 
I conjure believers, if they know that the true rule of righteous- 
ness is to be sought in the Scripture alone, to accompany me 
in a serious and solemn examination how the Scripture may be 
properly reconciled with itself without any sophistry. Paul, 
knowing the righteousness of faith to be the refuge of those 
who are destitute of any righteousness of their own, boldly 
infers that all who are justified by faith, are excluded from 
the righteousness of works. It being likewise evident, on the 
other hand, that this is common to all believers, he with 
equal confidence concludes that no man is justified by works, 
but rather, on the contrary, that we are justified independently 
of all works. But it is one thing to dispute concerning the 
intrinsic value of works, and another, to argue respecting the 
place they ought to hold after the establishment of the right- 
eousness of faith. If we are to determine the value of works 
by their own worthiness, we say that they are unworthy to 
appear in the sight of God ; that there is nothing in our works 
of which we can glory before God ; and consequently, that 
being divested of all assistance from works, we are justified by 
faith alone. Now, we describe this righteousness in the follow- 
ing maimer : That a sinner, being admitted to communion 
with Christ, is by his grace reconciled to God ; while, being 
purified by his blood, he obtains remission of sins, and being 
clothed with his righteousness, as if it were his own, he stands 
f secure before the heavenly tribunal. Where remission of sins 
f has been previously received, the good works which succeed 
* are estimated far beyond their intrinsic merit ; for all their 
^ imperfections are covered by the perfection of Christ, and all 
n '^fi^^^^ blemishes are removed by his purity, that they may not 

Lbe scrutinized by the Divine judgment. The guilt, therefore, 
of all transgressions, by which men are prevented from ofiering 
any thing acceptable to God being obliterated, and the imperfec- 
tion, which universally deforms even the good works of believers, 
being buried in oblivion, their works are accounted righteous, 
or, which is the same thing, are irnputed for righteousness. 

IX. Now, if any one urge this to me as an objection, to 
oppose the righteousness of faith, I will first ask him, Whether 
a man is reputed righteous on account of one or two holy 
works, who is in the other actions of his life a transgressor of 
the law. This would be too absurd to be pretended. I shall 
next inquire, If he is reputed righteous on account of many 
good works, while he is found guilty of any instance of trans- 
gression. This, likewise, my adversary will not presume to 
.naintain, in opposition to the sanction of the law, which de- 
nounces a curse on all those who do not fulfil every one of its 



CHAP XVII.] CHRISTIAN KELIGION. 43 

precepts, (b) I will further inquire, If then is any work 
which does not deserve the charge of impurily or imperfec- 
tion, (c) But how could this be possible before} those eyes, in 
which the stars are not sufficiently pure, nor the angels suffi- 
ciently righteous ? Thus he will be compelled to concede, that 
there is not i good work to be found, which is not too much 
polluted, both by its own imperfection and by the transgressions 
witlTwliich it is attended, to have any claim to the honourable 
appellation of righteousness. Now, if it be evidently in con- 
sequence of justification by faith, that works, otherwise impure 
and imperfect, unworthy of the sight of God, and much more of 
his approbation, are imputed for righteousness, — why do they 
attempt, by boasting of the righteousness of works, to destroy the 
righteousness of faith, from which all righteousness of works pro- 
ceeds ? But do they wish to produce a viperous offspring to de- 
"sfroyTKe parent ? For such is the true tendency of this impious 
doctrine. They cannot deny that justification by faith is the be- 
ginning, foundation, cause, motive, and substance of the right- 
eousness of works ; yet they conclude, that a man is not justified 
by faith because good works also are imputed for righteousness. 
Let us therefore leave these impertinences, and acknowledge 
the real state of the case ; if all the righteousness which can be 
attributed to works depends on justification by faith, the latter is 
not only not diminished, but, on the contrary, is confirmed by it ; 
since its influence appears the more extensive. But let us not 
suppose that works, subsequent to gratuitous justification, are 
so highly esteemed, that they succeed to the office of justifying 
men, or divide that office with faith. For unless justification 
by faith remain always unimpaired, the impurity of their works 
will be detected. Nor is there any absurdity in saying, that a 
man is so justified by faith, that he is not only righteous him- 
self, but that even his works are accounted righteous beyond 
what they deserve. 

X. In this way we will admit, not only a partial righteous- 
ness of works, which our opponents maintain, but such as is 
approved by God, as though it Avere perfect and complete. A 
remembrance of the foundation on which it stands will solve 
every difficulty. For no work is ever acceptable, till it be 
received with pardon. Now, whence proceeds pardon, but from 
God's beholding us and all our actions in Christ ? When we 
are ingrafted into Christ, therefore, as our persons appear right- 
eous before God, because our iniquities are covered by his 
righteousness, so our works are accounted righteous, because 
the sinfulness otherwise belonging to them is not imputed, be- 
ing all buried in the purity of Christ. So we may justljT 

(b) Deut. xxvii. 26. (c) Job iv 18; xv 15; xxv. 5 



i4 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

assert, that not only our persons, but even our works, are justi- 
fied by faith alone. Now, if this righteousness of works, 
whatever be its nature, is consequent and dependent on faith 
and gratuitous justification, it ought to be included under it, 
and subordinated to it, as an effect to its cause ; so far is it 
from deserving to be exalted, either to destroy or to obscure 
the righteousness of faith. Thus Paul, to evince that oui 
blessedness depends on the mercy of God, and not on oui 
works, chiefly urges this declaration of David : " Blessed are 
they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." [d) 
If, in opposition to this, the numerous passages be adduced 
where blessedness seems to be attributed to works ; such as, 
'' Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord ; (e) that hath mercy 
on the poor ;(/) that walketh not in the counsel of the un- 
godly ; [g) that endure th temptation ; " (y^) " Blessed are they 
that keep judgment ; {i) the undefiled, [k) the poor in spirit, 
the meek, the merciful," &c. ; {I) they will not at all weaken 
the truth of what is advanced by Paul. For since no man 
ever attains all these characters, so as thereby to gain the Divine 
approbation, it appears that men are always miserable till they 
8,re delivered from misery by the pardon of their sms. Since all 
the beatitudes celebrated in the Scriptures are of no avail, and 
no man can derive any benefit from them, till he has obtained 
blessedness by the remission of his sins, which then makes 
room for the other beatitudes, it follows that this is not 
merely the noblest and principal, but the only blessedness ; 
unless, indeed, we suppose it to be diminished by those which 
are dependent on it. Now, we have much less reason to be 
disturbed by the appellation of righteous, which is generally 
given to believers. I acknowledge that they are denomi- 
nated righteous from the sanctity of their lives ; but as they 
rather devote themselves to the pursuit of righteousness than 
actually attain to righteousness itself, it is proper that this 
righteousness, such as it is, should be subordinate to justifica- 
tion by faith, from which it derives its origin. 

XL But our adversaries say that we have yet more difficulty 
with James, since he contradicts us in express terms. For he 
teaches, that " Abraham was justified by works," and that we 
are all "justified by works, and not by faith only." (w) What 
then ? Will they draw Paul into a controversy with James ? 
If they consider James as a minister of Christ, his leclarations 
must be understood in some sense not at variance with Christ 



(d) Rom. iv. 7, 8. Psalm xxxii. 1, 2. (^) Psalm i. 1. (A;) Psalm cxix. 1. 

(c) Psalm cxii 1. (A) James i. 12. {I) Matt. v. 3, 5, 7. 

(/) Pre. xiv. '?!. {i) Psalm cvi. 3. (m) James ii. 21, 24 



CHAP, XVI I.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 45 

when speaking by the mouth of Paul. The Spirit asserts, by 
the mouth of Paul,- that Abraham obtained righteousness by 
faith, not by works ; we likewise teach, that we are all justified 
by faith without the works of the law. The same Spirit 
affirms by James, that both Abraham's righteousness and ours 
consists in works, and not in faith only. That the Spirit is not 
inconsistent with himself is a certain truth. But what harmony 
can there be between these two apparently opposite assertions ? 
Om- adversaries would be satisfied, if they could totally subvert 
the righteousness of faith, which we wish to be firmly es- 
tablished ; but to afford tranquillity to the disturbed conscience, 
they feel very little concern. Hence we perceive, that tliey 
oppose the doctrine of justification by faith, but at the same 
time fix no certain rule of righteousness, by which the con- 
science may be satisfied. Let them triumph then as they please, 
if they can boast no other victory but that of having removed 
all certainty of righteousness. And this miserable victory, 
indeed, they will obtain, where, after having extinguished the 
light of truth, they are permitted by the Lord to spread the 
shades of error. But, wherever the truth of God remains, they 
will not prevail. I deny, therefore, that the assertion of James, 
which they hold up against us as an impenetrable shield, aff"ords 
them the least support. To evince this, we shall first examine 
the scope of the apostle, and then remark wherein they are de- 
ceived. Because there were many persons at that time, and the 
Church is perpetually infested with similar characters, who, by 
neglecting and omitting the proper duties of believers, manifest- 
ly betrayed their real infidelity, while they continued to glory in 
the false pretence of faith, James here exposes the foolish con- 
fidence of such persons. It is not his design, then, to diminish, 
in any respect, the virtue of true faith, but to show the folly of 
fhese triflers, who were content with arrogating to themselves 
:he vain image of it, and securely abandoned themselves to 
svery vice. This statement being premised, it will be easy 
to discover where lies the error of our adversaries. For they 
fall into two fallacies; one respecting the word "faith," the 
other respecting the word "justification." When the apostle 
gives the appellation of faith to a vain notion, widely different 
from true faith, it is a concession which derogates nothing from 
the argument ; this he shows from the beginning in these words : 
" What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath 
faith, and have not works? " [n) He does not say, If any one 
have faith without works ; but, If any one boast of having it. 
He speaks still more plainly just after, where he ridicules it by 
representing it as worse than the knowledge of devils ; and lastly. 

ill) James ii. 14 



46 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111 

when he calls it dead. But his meaning may be sufficiently 
understood from the definition he gives: "Thou believest," 
Bays he, " that there is one God." Indeed, if nothing be con- 
tained in this creed but a belief of the Divine existence, it is 
not at a.l surprising that it is inadequate to justification. And 
we muse not suppose this denial to be derogatory to Christian 
faith, the nature of which is widely different. For how does 
true faith justify, but by uniting us to Christ, that, being made 
one with him, we may participate his righteousness ? It does 
not, therefore, justify us, by attaining a knowledge of God's 
existence, but by a reliance on the certainty of his mercy. 

XII. But we shall not have ascertained the whole scope of 
the apostle, till we have exposed the other fallacy ; for he at- 
tributes justification partly to works. If we wish to make 
James consistent with the rest of the Scriptures, and even with 
himself, we must understand the word "justify " in a different 
signification from that in which it is used by Paul. For we are 
said by Paul to be justified, when the memory of our unright- 
eousness is obliterated, and we are accounted righteous. If 
James had alluded to this, it would have been preposterous for 
him to make that quotation from Moses : " Abraham believed 
God," &c. (o) For he introduces it in the following manner: 
Abraham obtained righteousness by works, because he hesitated 
not to sacrifice his son at the command of God. And thus was 
the Scripture fulfilled, which saith, Abraham believed God, and 

t was imputed unto him for righteousness. If an effect ante- 
2edent to its cause be an absurdity, either Moses falsely asserts 
in that place, that Abraham's faith was imputed to him for 
righteousness, or Abraham did not obtain righteousness by his 
obedience, displayed in the oblation of his son. Abraham was 
justified by faith, while Ishmael, who arrived at adolescence 
before the birth of Isaac, was not yet conceived. How, then, 
can we ascribe his justification to an act of obedience performed 
so long after ? Wherefore, either James improperly inverted 
the order of events, (which it is unlawful to imagine,) or, by 
saying that Abraham was justified, he did not mean that the 
patriarch deserved to be accounted righteous. What, then, was 
his meaning ? He evidently appears to speak of a declaration 
of righteousness before men, and not of an imputation of it in 
the sight of God ; as though he had said. They who are jus- 
tified by true faith, prove their justification, not hy a barren 
and imaginary resemblance of faith, but by obedience and good 
works. In a word, he is not disputing concerning the method 
of justification, but requiring of believers a righteousness 

manifested in good works. And as Paul contends for justi- 

(o) James ii. 21—23. Gen. xv. 6. 



CHAP. XVII.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 47 

fication independent of works, so James will not allow those to 
De accounted righteous, who are destitute of good works. The 
consideration of this object will extricate us from every diffi- 
culty. For the principal mistake of our adversaries consists in 
supposing, that James describes the method of justification, 
while he only endeavours to destroy the corrupt security of 
those who make vain pretences to faith, in order to excuse theii 
contempt of good works. Into whatever forms, therefore, they 
pervert the words of James, they will extort nothing but these 
two truths — that a vain notion of faith cannot justify ; and that 
the faithful, not content with such an imagination, manifest 
their righteousness by their good works. 

XIII. Nor can they derive the least support from a similar 
passage which they cite from Paul, that " Not the heai-ers of the 
law^ but the doers of the law, shall be justified." (p) I have no 
wish to evade it by the explanation of Ambrose, that this is 
spoken, because faith in Christ is the fulfilling of the law. For 
this I conceive to be a mere subterfuge, which is totally un- 
necessary. The apostle in that place is demolishing the foolish 
confidence of the Jews, who boasted of possessing the exclusive 
knowledge of the law, whilst at the same time they were the 
greatest despisers of it. To prevent such great self-complacence 
on account of a mere acquaintance with the law, he admonishes 
them, that if righteousness be sought by the law, it is re([uisite 
not only to know but to observe it. We certainly do not 
question that the righteousness of the law consists in works, 
nor that this righteousness consists in the worthiness and 
merit of works. But still it cannot be proved that we are 
justified by works, unless some person be produced who has, 
fulfilled the law. That Paul had no other meaning, is 
sufficiently evident from the context. After having con- 
demned the Gentiles and Jews indiscriminately for unright- 
eousness, he proceeds particularly to inform us, that " as many 
as have sinned without law shall also perish without law ; " 
which refers to the Gentiles ; and that " as many as have 
sinned in the law shall be judged by the law ; " which belongs 
to the Jews. Moreover, because they shut their eyes against 
their transgressions, and gloried in their mere possession of the 
law, he adds, what is exceedingly applicable, that the law was 
not given that men might be justified merely by hearing its 
voice, but by obeying it ; as though he had said, Do you seek 
righteousness by the law ? Plead not your having heard it, which 
of itself is a very small advantage, but produce works as an evi- 
dence that the law has not been given to you in vain. Since 
in this respect tliey were all deficient, they were consequently 
deprive(^ of their glorying in the law. The meaning of Paul 

(p) Rom. ii. 13. 



4ti INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK I1» 

therefore, rather furnishes an opposite argument : Legal right- 
eousness consists in perfect works ; no man can boast of having 
satisfied the law by his works ; therefore there is no right 
eousness by the law. 

XIV. Our adversaries proceed to adduce those passages in 
which the faithful boldly offer their righteousness to the ex- 
amination of Divine justice, and desire to be judged according 
to it. Such are the following : " Judge me, O Lord, according 
to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in 
me." {q) Again : " Hear the right, O Lord. Thou hast proved 
mine hccirt ; thou hast visited me in the night ; thou hast tried 
me, and shalt find nothing." (r) Again : " I have kept the ways 
of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. I 
was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine 
iniquity. Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according 
to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands." (s) 
Again : " Judge me, O liOrd, for I have walked in mine integ- 
rity. I have not sat with vain persons ; neither will I go in 
with dissemblers. Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my 
life with bloody men ; in whose hands is mischief, and theii 
right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in mine 
integrity." (t) I have already spoken of the confidence which 
the saints appear to derive from their works. The passages 
now adduced will form no objection to our doctrine, when they 
are explained according to the occasion of them. Now, this is 
twofold. For believers who have expressed themselves in 
this manner, have no wish to submit to a general examination, 
to be condemned or absolved according to the whole tenor of 
their lives, but they bring forward a particular cause to be 
judged ; and they attribute righteousness to themselves, not 
with reference to the Divine perfection, but in comparison 
with men of impious and abandoned characters. In the 
first place, in order to a man's being justified, it is requisite 
that he should have, not only a good cause in some particular 
instance, but a perpetual consistency of righteousness through 
life. But the saints, when they implore the judgment of God 
in approbation of their innocence, do not present themselves as 
free from every charge, and absolutely guiltless ; but having 
fixed their dependence on his goodness alone, and confiding 
m his readiness to avenge the poor who are unlawfully and 
unjustly afflicted, they supplicate his regard to the cause m 
which the innocent are oppressed. But when they place them- 
selves and their adversaries before the Divine tribunal, they 
boast not an innocence, which, on a severe examination, would 



(q) Psalm vii. 8. (s) Psalm xviii. 21 , 23, 24 

(r) Psalm xvii. 1, 3. (t) Psalm xxvi. 1. 4, 9—11 



cUAP. XVII.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 49 

be found correspondent to the purity of God ; but knowing 
that their sincerity, justice, simplicity, and purity, are pleasing 
and acceptable to God, in comparison with the malice, wicked- 
ness, fraud, and iniquity of their enemies, tlioy aie not afraid to 
invoke Him to judge between them. Thus, wlieii David said 
to Saul, " The Lord render to every man his righteousness and 
his faithfulness " {v) he did not mean that the Lord should ex- 
amine every individual by himself, and reward him according 
to his merits ; bi:t he called the Lord to witness the greatness 
of his innocence in comparison with the inicjuity of Saul Nor 
did Paul, when he gloried in having •' the testimony ol '" his 
"conscience" that he had conducted himself in tlie Church 
" with simplicity and godly sincerity," (lo) intend to rely on this 
before God ; but the calumnies of the impious constrained him 
to oppose all their slanderous aspersions by asserting his fidelity 
and probity, which he knew to be acceptable to the Divine good- 
ness. For we know what he says in anothei' place : " I am con- 
scious to myself of nothing ; yet am I not hereby justified." (.r) 
Because, indeed, he was certain, that the judgment of God far 
transcended the narrow comprehension of man. However, 
therefore, the pious may vindicate their innocence against the 
hypocrisy of the impious, by invoking God to bo their witness 
and judge, yet in their concerns with God alone, they all v/ith 
one voice exclaim, " If thou. Lord, shouldst mark inic^uities, O 
Lord, who shall stand? " (y) Again: •' Enter not into judg- 
ment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be 
justified." (z) And, difiident of their own worlcs, they gladly 
sing, " Thy loving-kindness is better than life." («) 

XV, There are likewise other passages, similar to the prece- 
ding, on which some person may yet insist. Solcinon says, 
" The just man walketh in his integrity." {/>) Again : " Ir the 
way of righteousness there is life ; and in the pathway t!iei\^of 
there is no death." (c) Thus also Ezekiel declares, that he who 
"doth that which is lawful and right, shall surely live." (t?) 
We neither deny nor obscure any of these. But let one of the 
sons of Adam produce such an integrity. If no one can, they 
must either perish from the presence of God, or flee to the 
asylum of mercy. Nor do we deny, that to believers their 
integrity, however imperfect, is a step toward immortality 
But what is the cause of this, unless it be that when the Lord 
has admitted any persons into the covenant of his grace, he 
does not scrutinize their works according to their intrinsic 
merit, but embraces them with paternal benignity? By this 



(v) 1 Sam. xxvi. 23. {y) Psalm cxxx. 3. (6) i'rov. xx. 7. 

(w) 2 Cor. i. 12. (2) Psalm cxliii. 2. (t) I'rov. :<\\. 23. 

(x) 1 Cor. iv. 4. («) Psalm Ixiii. 3. {d) E/. xxxli:. 14, ^5. 

VOL. II. 7 



50 INSTITUTES OF THF [bOOK IIJ 

we mean, not merely what is taught by the schoohnen, " that 
works receive their vahie from the grace which accepts them ; " 
for they suppose, that works, otherwise inadequate to the at- 
tainment of salvation by the legal covenant, are rendered suf- 
ficient for this by the Divine acceptance of them. But I assert, 
that they are so defiled, both by other transgressions and by 
their own blemishes, that they are of no value at all, except as 
the Lord pardons both ; and this is no other than bestowing 
on a man gratuitous righteousness. It is irrelevant to this 
subject, to allege those prayers of the apostle, in which he 
desires such perfection for believers, that they may be un- 
blamable and irreprovable in the day of Christ, (e) These 
passages, indeed, the Celestines formerly perverted, in order to 
prove a perfection of righteousness in the present life. We 
think it sufficient briefly to reply, with Augustine, "that all 
the pious ought, indeed, to aspire to this object, to appear one 
day immaculate and guiltless before the presence of God ; but 
since the highest excellency in this life is nothing more than 
a progress towards perfection, we shall never attain it, till, 
being divested at once of mortality and sin, we shall fully 
adhere to the Lord." Nevertheless, I shall not pertinaciously 
contend with any person who chooses to attribute to the saints 
the character of perfection, provided he also defines it in the 
words of Augustine himself; who says, "When we denomi- 
nate the virtue of the saints perfect, to this perfection itself 
belongs the acknowledgment of imperfection, both in truth 
and in humility." 



CHAPTER XVIIL 

JUSTIFICATION BY WORKS NOT TO BE INFERRED FROM THF. 
PROMISE OF A REWARD. 

Let us now proceed to those passages which affirm tha. 
"God will render to every man according to his deeds ; " (/) 
that " every one may receive the things done in his body, ac- 
cording to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (g) 
"Tribulation and anguish upon every soul that doeth •vil : 
but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh 
good." (/i) And, "All shall come forth; they that have done 
good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done 
evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (i) " Come, ye 

,V) 1 Thess. iii. 13, et alibi. (/) Rom. ii. 6. Matt. xvi. 27. 

(^) aCoi. V 10. (A) Rom. ii. 9, 10. (/)Johiiv.i& 



CHAP. XVIII.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 51 

blessed of my Father; for I was a hungered, and ye gave me 
meat : I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink," &c. (k) And 
with these let us also connect those which represent eternal 

ife as the reward of works, such as the following : ' The re- 
compense of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him." (I) 

' He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded." (tw) 
" Rejoice and be exceeding glad ; for great is your reward in 
heaven." (w) "Every one shall receive his own reward, ac- 
cording to his own labour." (o) The declaration, that God 
will render to every one according to his works, is easily ex- 
plained. For that phrase indicates the order of events, rather 
than the cause of them. But it is beyond all doubt, that the 
Lord proceeds to the consummation of our salvation by these 
several gradations of mercy : " Whom he hath predestinated, 
them he calls ; whom he hath called, he justifies ; and whom 
he hath justified, he finally glorifies." (p) Though he receives 
his children into eternal life, therefore, of his mere mercy, yet 
since he conducts them to the possession of it through a course 
of good works, that he may fulfil his work in them in the order 
he has appointed, we need not wonder if they are said to be 
rewarded according to their works, by which they are un- 
doubtedly prepared to receive the crown of immortality. And 
for this reason, they are properly said to " work out their own 
salvation," (q) while, devoting themselves to good works, they 
aspire to eternal life ; just as in another place they are com- 
manded to "labor for the meat which perisheth not," when 
they obtain eternal life by believing in Christ ; and yet it is 
immediately added, " which the Son of man shall give unto 
you." (r) Whence it appears that the word ivork is not op- 
posed to grace, but refers to human endeavours ; and there- 
fore it does not follow, either that believers are the authors of 
their own salvation, or that salvation proceeds from their works. 
But as soon as they are introduced, by the knowledge of the 
gospel and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, into commu- 
nion with Christ, eternal life is begun in them. Now, " the 
good work which " God " hath begun in " them, " he will per- 
form until the day of Jesus Christ." (s) And it is performed, 
when they prove themselves to be the genuine children of God 
by their resemblance to their heavenly Father in righteousness 
and holiness. 

n.. We have no reason to infer from the term reward, that 
good works are the cause of salvation. First, let this truth be 
established in our minds, that the kingdom of heaven is not 



k) Matt. XXV. 34— 36. (n) Matt. v. 12. Luke vi. 23 (</) Phil. ii. 12. 

[l) Prov. lii. 14. (o) 1 Cor. iii. 8. (;•) John vi. 27 

(7i») Prov. liii. 13. t^p) Rom. viii. 30. (s) Phil. i. 6. 



02 INSTITUTES OF THE 'bOOK III 

/the stipend of servants, but the inheritance of children, which 
■ will be enjoyed only by those whom the Lord adopts as his 
children, and for no other cause than on account of this adop- 
tion. " For the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with 
the son of the free-woman." (t) And, therefore, in the same 
passages in which the Holy Spirit promises eternal life as the re- 
ward of works, by expressly denominating it " an inheritance,'' 
he proves it to proceed from another cause. Thus Christ enu- 
merates the works which he compensates by the reward of 
heaven, when he calls the elect to the possession of it ; but at 
the same time adds, that it is to be enjoyed by right of inherit- 
ance, (v) So Paul encourages servants, who faithfully discharge 
their duty, to hope for a reward from the Lord ; but at the same 
time calls it " the reward of the inheritance." {iv) We see how 
they, almost in express terms, caution us against attributing 
eternal life to works, instead of ascribing it to Divine adoption. 
Why, then, it may be asked, do they at the same time make 
mention of works ? This question shall be elucidated by one 
example from the Scripture. Before the nativity of Isaac, 
there had been promised to Abraham a seed in whom all the 
nations of the earth were to be blessed, a multiplication of his 
posterity, which would equal the stars of heaven and the sands 
of the sea, and other similar blessings, {x) Many years after, 
in consequence of a Divine command, Abraham prepares to 
sacrifice his son. After this act of obedience, he receives this 
promise : " By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because 
thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine 
only son ; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying 
I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the 
.5and which is upon the sea-shore ; and thy seed shall possess 
the gate of his enemies ; and in thy seed shall all the na- 
tions of the earth be blessed ; because thou hast obeyed ray 
voice." (y) What? did Abraham by his obedience merit that 
blessing which had been promised him before the command 
was delivered ? Here, then, it appears, beyond all doubt, that 
the Lord rewai-ds the works of believers with those blessings 
which ■ he had already given them before their works were 
thought of, and while he had no reason for his beneficen<;e, 
but his own mercy. 

HI. Nor does the Lord deceive or trifle with us, when he 
says that he will requite works with what he had freely giv- 
en previously to the performance of them. For since it is 
his pleasure that we be employed in good works, while as- 
piring after the manifestation or enjoyment of those things 



(0 Gal iv. 30. (v) Matt. xxv. 34. (w) Col. iii. 24. 

(i) Gen. xii. 2, 3; xiii. 16 ; xv. 5. (»/) Gen. xxii. 16—18. 



OHAP. XVHI.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. ,j;j 

which he has promised, and that they constitute the road in 
which we should travel to endeavour to attain the blessed hope 
proposed to us in heaven, therefore the frnit of the promises, to 
the perfection of which fruit those works conduct us, is justly- 
assigned to them. The apostle beautifully expressed both those 
ideas^ when he said that the Colossians applied themselves to 
the duties of charity, " for the hope which was laid up for 
them in heaven, whereof they heard before in the word, of the 
truth of the gospel." (z) For his assertion, that they knew 
from the gospel, that there was hope laid up for them in hea- 
ven, is equivalent to a declaration that it depended not on any 
works, but on Christ alone ; which perfectly accords with the 
observation of Peter, that believers " are kept by the power of 
God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the _ 
last time." (a) When it is said that they must labour for it, it ] 
implies, that in order to attain to it, believers have a race to run, 
which terminates only with their lives. But that we might 
not suppose the reward promised us by the Lord to be regula- 
ted according to the proportion of merit, he proposes a parable, 
in which he has represented himself under the character of a 
householder, who employs all the persons he meets in the cul- 
tivation of his vineyard ; some he hires at the first hour 
of the day, others at the second, others at the third, and some 
even at the eleventh hour ; in the evening he pays them all 
the same wages, (b) A brief and just explanation of this 
parable is given by the ancient writer, whoever he was, of the 
treatise " On the Calling of the Gentiles," which bears the 
name of Ambrose. I shall adopt his words in preference to 
my own. " By the example of this comparison, (says he,) the 
Lord has shown a variety of manifold vocation pertaining to 
the same grace. They who, having been admitted into the 
vineyard at the eleventh hour, are placed on an equality with 
them who had laboured the whole day, represent the state of 
those whom, to magnify the excellence of grace, God, in his 
mercy, has rewarded in the decline of the day, and at the con- 
clusion of life ; not paying them the wages due to their labour, 
but sending down the riches of his goodness, in copious effu- 
sions, on them whom he has chosen without works ; that even 
they who have laboured the most, and have received no more 
than the last, may understand theirs to be a reward of grace, i 
not of works." Lastly, it is also worthy of being observed^ 
that in those places where eternal life is called a reward of 
works, it is not to be understood simply of that communion 
which we have with God, as the prelude to a happy immor- 
tality, when he embraces us in Christ with paternal benevo- 

(z) Col. i. 4, 5. (a) 1 Peter i. 5. (b) Matt. xx. 1, &c. 



64 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

-eiice , but of the possession or fruition of ultimate blessedness, 
as the very words of Christ import — " in the woild to come, 
eternal life." (c) And iu another place, "Come, inherit the 
kingdom,"' &c. (d) For the same reason, Paul applies the 
term adoption to the revelation of adoption, which shall be 
made in the resurrection ; and afterwards explains it to be 
"the redemption of our body." (e) Otherwise, as alienatiou 
from God is eternal death, so when a man is received into the 
favour of God so as to enjoy communion with him and become 
united to him, he is translated from death to life ; which is 
solely the fruit of adoption. And if they insist, with their ac- 
customed pertinacity, on the reward of works, we may retort 
against them that passage of Peter, where eternal life is called 
"the end (or reward) of faith." (/) 

IV". Let us not, therefore, imagine, that the Holy Spirit by 
these promises commends the worthiness of our works, as 
though they merited such a reward. For the Scripture leaves 
us nothing that can exalt us in the Divine presence. Its whole 
tendency is rather to repress our arrogance, and to inspire us 
with humility, dejection, and contrition. But such promises 
assist our weakness, which otherwise would immediately slide 
and fall, if it did not sustain itself by this expectation, and al- 
leviate its sorrows by this consolation. First, let every one re- 
flect, how difficult it is for a man to relinquish and renoimce, 
not only all that belongs to him, but even himself. And yet 
this is the first lesson which Christ teaches his disciples, that 
is to say, all the pious. Afterwards he gives them such tuition 
during the remainder of their lives, under the discipline of the 
cross, that their hearts may not fix either their desires or their 
dependence on present advantages. In short, he generally ma- 
nages them in such a manner, that whithersoever they turn 
their views throughout the world, nothing but despair presents 
itself to them on every side ; so that Paul says, " If in this life 
only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most mise- 
rable." [g] To preserve them from sinking under these afflic- 
tions, they have the presence of the Lord, who encourages 
them to raise their heads higher, and to extend their views 
further, by assurances that they will find in him that blessed- 
ness whi:h they cannot see in the world. This blessedness 
he calls a reward, a recompense ; not attributing any merit 
to their works, but signifying that it is a compensation for 
their oppressions, sufferings, and disgrace. Wherefore there 
IS no objection against our following the example of the Scrip- 
ture in calling eternal life a retoard ; since in that state the 



(c) Mark x. 30. (d) Matt. xxv. 34. (e) Rom. viii. 23. 

(/) 1 Peter i. 9. (g) I Cor. xv. 19. 



CHAP. XVIII.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 55 

Lord receives his people from labor into rest ; from affliction into 
prosperity and happiness ; from sorrow into joy ; from poverty 
into affluence ; from ignominy into glory ; and commutes all the 
evils which they have endured for blessings of superior magni-^ 
tude. So, likewise, it will occasion no inconvenience, if we con- 1 
sider holiness of life as the way, not which procures our admis- 
sion into the glory of the heavenly kingdom, but through which 
the elect are conducted by their God to the manifestation of it ; 
since it is his good pleasure to glorify them whom he has 
sanctified. Only let us not imagine a reciprocal relation of 
merit and reward, which is the error into which the sophists 
fell, for want of considering the end which we have stated. 
But how preposterous is it, when the Lord calls our attention 
to one end, for us to direct om* views to another ! Nothing is 
clearer, than that the promise of a reward to good works is de- 
signed to afford some consolation to the weakness of our flesh, 
but not to inflate our minds with vain-glory. Whoever, there- 
fore, infers from this, that there is any merit in works, or ba- 
lances the work against the reward, errs very widely from th^' 
true design of God. " 

V. Therefore, when the Scripture says, that " the Lord, the 
righteous Judge, shall give " to his people " a crown of right- 
eousness," [h] I not only reply with Augustine — " To whom 
could the righteous Judge have given a crown, if the Father 
of mercies had never given grace ? and how would it have 
been an act of righteousness, if not preceded by that grace 
which justifies the ungodly ? how could these due rewards be 
rendered, unless those unmerited blessings were previously 
bestowed?" but I further inquire — How could he impute 
righteousness to our works, unless his indulgent mercy had 
concealed their unrighteousness ? How could he esteem them 
worthy of a reward, unless his infinite goodness had abolished 
all their demerit of punishment ? Augustine is in the habit 
of designating eternal life by the word grace, because, when it 
is given as the reward of works, it is conferred on the gratui- 
tous gifts of God. But the Scripture humbles us more, and at 
the same time exalts us. For beside prohibiting us to glory in 
works, because they are the gratuitous gifts of God, it likewise 
teaches us that they are always defiled by some pollutions ; sc 
that they cannot satisfy God, if examined according to the rule 
of his judgment ; but it is also added, to prevent our despon- 
dency, that they please him merely through his mercy. Now. 
though Augustine expresses himself somewhat differently from 
us, yet that there is no real difference of sentiment will appear 
from his language to Boniface. After a comparison between 

(A) " Tim. iv. 8. 



56 IN'STITtrTES OF THE [bOOK III 

two men, the one of a life holy and perfect even to a miracle, 
the other a man of probity and integrity, yet not so perfect but 
that many defects might be discovered, he at length makes 
this inference : " The latter, whose character appears inferior 
to the former, on account of the true faith in God by which he 
lives, and according to which he accuses himself in all his de- 
linquencies, and in all his good works praises God, ascribing 
the glory to him, the ignominy to himself, and deriving from 
him both the pardon of his sins and the love of virtue ; this 
man, I sa)'', when delivered from this life, removes into the 
presence of Christ. Wherefore, but on account of faith ? which, 
though no man be saved by it without works, (for it is not a 
reprobate faith, but such as works by love,) yet produces re- 
mission of sins, for the just lives by faith ; (?) but without it, 
works apparently good are perverted into sins." Here he 
avows, without any obscurity, that for which we so strenuously 
contend — that the righteousness of good works depends on 
their acceptance by the Divine mercy. 

VI. Very similar to the foregoing passages is the import 
of the following : " Make to yourselves friends of the mammon 
of unrighteousness ; that, when ye fail, they may receive you 
into everlasting habitations." (k) " Charge them that are rich 
in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncer- 
tain riches, but in the living God ; that they do good, that 
they be rich in good works ; laying up in store for themselves 
a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay 
hold on eternal life." (I) Here good works are compared to 
riches, which we may enjoy in the happiness of eternal life. 
[ reply, that we shall never arrive at the true meaning of these 
passages, unless we advert to the design of the Spirit in such 
language. If Christ's declaration be true, that " where our 
treasure is, there will our heart be also," (m) — as the children 
of this world are generally intent on the acquisition of those 
things which conduce to the comfort of the present life, so it 
ought to be the concern of believers, after they have been 
taught that this life will ere long vanish like a dream, to trans- 
mit those things which they really wish to enjoy, to that ))lace 
where they shall possess a perfect and permanent life. It 
behoves us, therefore, to imitate the conduct of those who 
determine to migrate to any new situation, where they have 
chos3n to reside during the remainder of their lives ; they send 
their property before them, without regarding the inconveni- 
ence of a temporary absence from it ; esteeming their happiness 
the greater in proportion to the wealth which they possess in 
the place which they intend for their permanent residence. If 

.»:) Heb. X. 38 (k) Luke .xvi. 9. (I) 1 Tim. v\. 17—19. (m) Matt. vi. 21 



CHAP. XVIII. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. ol 

we believe heaven to be our country, it is better for us to 
transmit our wealth thither, than to retain it here, where we 
may lose it by a sudden removal. But how shall we transmit 
it ? Why, if we communicate to the necessities of the poor ; 
whatever is bestowed on them, the Lord considers as given to 
himself. (71) Whence that celebrated promise, " He that hath 
pity upon the pooe andeth unto the Lord." (0) Again: 'He 
which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." (^) For 
all things that are bestowed on our brethren in a way of 
charity, are so many deposits in the hand of the Lord ; which 
ho, as a faithful depositary, will one day restore with ample 
interest. Are our acts of duty, then, it will be asked, so valu- 
able in the sight of God, that they are like riches reserved 
in his hand for us ? And who can be afraid to assert this, 
when the Scripture so frequently and plainly declares it ? But 
if any one, from the mere goodness of God, would infer the 
merit of works, these testimonies will afford no countenance to 
such an error. For we can infer nothing from them except 
the indulgence which God in his mercy is disposed to show 
us, since, in order to animate us to rectitude of conduct, though 
the duties we perform are unworthy of the least notice from 
him, yet he suffers not one of them to go unrewarded. 

VH. But they insist more on the words of the apostle, who, 
to console the Thessalonians under their tribulations, tells them 
that the design of their infliction 'is, "that they may be count- 
ed worthy of the kingdom of God, for which they also suffer. 
Seeing," says he, " it is a righteous thing with God to recom- 
pense tribulation to them that trouble you ; and to you who are 
troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed 
from heaven." (q) And the author of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews says, " God is not unrighteous to forget your work and 
labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that 
ye have ministered to the saints." (r) To the first passage I 
reply. That it indicates no worthiness of merit ; but since it 
is the will of God the Father, that those whom he has chosen 
as his children be conformed to Christ his first begotten Son ; (s) 
as it was necessary for him first to suffer and then to enter 
into the glory destined for him ; (^) so "we must through 
mucn tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.'' (u) The 
tribulations, thirefore, which we suffer for the name of Christ, 
are, as it were, certain marks impressed on us by which God 
usually distinguishes the sheep of his flock. For this reason, 
then, we are accounted worthy of the kingdom of God, because 



(n) Matt. XXV. 40. (p) 2 Cor. ix. 6. (r) Heb. vi. 10. (t) Luke xxiv. 26 

(o) Prov. xix. 17. (q) 2 Thess. i. 5—7. (s) Rom. viii. 2D (u) Acts xiv. 22. 

VOL.. II. 8 



58 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111 

we bear in our body the marks of our Lord and Master, (t^) 
which are the badges of the children of God. The same 
sentiment is conveyed in the following passages : " Bearing 
about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also 
of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (x) " Being made 
conformable unto his death, if by any means I might attain 
unto the resurrection of the dead." (y) The reason which the 
apost.e subjoins tends not to establish any merit, but to confirm 
; the hope of the kingdom of God ; as though he had said, As it is 
( cimsistent with the judgment of God to avenge on your enemies 
those vexations with which they have harassed you, so it is 
also to grant you respite and repose from those vexations. Of 
the other passage, which represents it as becoming the right- 
eousness of God not to forget our services, so as almost to im- 
ply that he would be unrighteous if he did forget them, the 
meaning is, that in order to arouse our indolence, God has as- 
sured us that the labour which we undergo for the glory of his 
name shall not be in vain. And we should always remember 
that this promise, as well as all others, would be fraught with no 
benefit to us, unless it were preceded by the gratuitous cove- 
nant of mercy, on which the whole certainty of our salvation 
must depend. But relying on that covenant, we may securely 
confide, that our services, however unworthy, will not go with- 
out a reward from the goodness of God. To confirm us in that 
expectation, the apostle asserts that God is not imrighteous, 
but will perform the promise he has once made. This right- 
eousness, therefore, refers rather to the truth of the Divine 
promise, than to the equity of rendering to us any thing that is 
our due. To this purpose there is a remarkable observation of 
Augustine ; and as that holy man has not hesitated frequently 
to repeat it as deserving of remembrance, so I deem it not un- 
worthy of a constant place in our minds. " The Lord," says 
he, " is faithful, who has made himself our debtor, not by 
receiving any thing from us, but by promising all things to us." 
VIII. Our Pharisees adduce the following passages of Paul : 
" Though I have all faith, so that I could remove moimtains, 
and have not charity, I am nothing." Again : " Now abideth 
faith, hope, charity, these three ; but the greatest of these is 
charity." (z) Again : " Above all these things, put on charity, 
which IS the bond of perfectness." (a) From the first two pas- 
sages they contend that we are justified rather by charity than 
by faith ; that is, by the superior virtue, as they express it. 
But this argument is easily overturned. For we have already 
shown, that what is mentioned in the first passage, has no 

"^ 'id) Ual. VI 17. (i) 2 Cor. iv. 10. (y) Phil. iii. 10, 11. 

(:) 1 Cor. xiii 2, 13. (a) Col. iii 14. 



SHAP, XVIII.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 59 

reference to tme faith. The second we explain to signify true 
faith, than which he calls charity greater, not as being more 
meritorious, but because it is more fruitful, more extensive, 
more generally serviceable, and perpetual in its duration ; 
whereas the use of faith is only temporary. In respect of ex- 
cellence, the preeminence must be given to the love of God, 
which is not in this place the subject of Paul's discourse. Foi 
the only point which he urges is, that with reciprocal charity 
we mutually edify one another in the Lord. But let us suppose 
that charity excels faith in all respects, yet what person pos- 
sessed of sound judgment, or even of the common exercise of 
reason, would argue from this that it has a greater concern in 
justification ? The power of justifying, attached to faith, con- 
sists not in the worthiness of the act. Our justification depends 
solely on the mercy of God and the merit of Christ, which 
when faith apprehends, it is said to justify us. Now, if we ask 
our adversaries in what sense they attribute justification to 
charity, they will reply, that because it is a duty pleasing to 
God, the merit of it, being accepted by the Divine goodness, is 
imputed to us for righteousness. Here we see how curiously 
their argument proceeds. We assert that faith justifies, not by 
procuring us a righteousness through its own merit, but as 
the instrument by which we freely obtain the righteousness of 
Christ. These men, passing over in silence the mercy of God 
and making no mention of Christ, in whom is the substance of 
righteousness, contend that we are justified by the virtue of 
charity, because it is more excellent than faith ; just as though 
any one should insist that a king, in consequence of his superior 
rank, is more expert at making a shoe than a shoemaker. This 
one argument aifords an ample proof that all the Sorbonic 
schools are destitute of the least experience of justification by 
faith. But if any wrangler should yet inquire, why we un- 
derstand Paul to use the word faith in difierent acceptations in 
the same discourse, I am prepared with a substantial reason for 
such an interpretation. For since those gifts which Paul enu- 
merates, are in some respect connected with faith and hope, 
because they relate to the knowledge of God, he summarily 
comprises tliem all under those two words ; as though he had 
said. The end of prophecy, and of tongues, of knowledge, and of 
the gift of interpretation, is to conduct us to the knowledge of 
God. But we know God in this life only by hope and faith. 
Therefore, when I mention faith and hope, I comprehend all 
these thhigs under them. "And now abideth faith, hope, 
charity, these three ; " that is, all gifts, whatever may be their 
variety, are referred to these. "But the greatest of these is 
charity." From the third passage they infer, that if " charity 
\s the bond of perfectness," it is therefore the bond of right- 



60 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

eousness, which is no other than perfection. Now, to refrain 
from observing that what Paul calls perfectness^ is the mutual 
connection which subsists between the members of a well-con- 
stituted church, and to admit that charity constitutes our per- 
fection before God ; yet what new advantage will they gain ? 
On the contrary, T shall always object, that we never arrive 
at that perfection, unless we fulfil all the branches of charity ; 
and hence I shall infer, that since all men are at an immense 
distance from complete charity, they are destitute of all hope 
of perfection. 

IX. I have no inclination to notice all the passages of Scrip- 
ture, which the folly of the modern Sorbonists seizes as they 
occur, and without any reason employs against us. For some 
of them are so truly ridiculous, that I could not even mention 
them, unless I wished to be accounted a fool. I shall therefore 
conclude this subject after having explained a sentence uttered 
by Christ, with which they are wonderfully pleased. To a 
lawyer, who asked him what was necessary to salvation, he 
replied, " If thou wilt enter into life, keep the command- 
ments." (6) What can we wish more, say they, when the 
Author of grace himself commands to obtain the kingdom of 
heaven by an observance of the commandments ? As though 
it were not evident, that Christ adapted his replies to those with 
whom he conversed. Here a doctor of the law inquires the 
method of obtaining happiness, and that not simply, but what 
men must do in order to attain it. Both the character of the 
speaker and the inquiry itself induced the Lord to make this 
reply. The inquirer, persuaded of the righteousness of the law, 
possessed a blind confidence in his works. Besides, he only 
inquired what were those works of righteousness by which sal- 
vation might be procured. He is therefore justly referred to 
the law, which contains a perfect mirror of righteousness. We 
also explicitly declare, that if life be sought by works, it is indis- 
pensably requisite to keep the commandments. And this doctrine 
is necessary to be known by Christians ; for how should they 
flee for refuge to Christ, if they did not acknowledge themselves 
to have fallen from the way of life upon the precipice of death ? 
And how could they know how far they have wandered from 
the way of life, without a previous knowledge of what that 
way of life is ? It is then, therefore, that Christ is presented to 
them as the asylum of salvation, when they perceive the vast 
difference between their own lives and the Divine righteousness, 
which consists in the observance of the law. The sum of the 
whole is, that if we seek salvation by works, we must keep tin 
commandments, by which we are taught perfect righteousness. 

{b) Matt. XIX. 17. 



CHAP. XVIII.J CHRISIIAN RELIGION. 61 

But to stop here, would be failing in the midst of our course , 
for to keep the commandments is a task to which none of us 
are equal. Being excluded, then, from the righteousness of the 
law, we are under the necessity of resorting to some other refuge, 
namely, to faith m Christ. Wherefore, as the Lord, knowing 
this doctor of the law to be inflated with a vain confidence in his 
works, recalls his attention to the law, that it may teach him 
his own character as a sinner, obnoxious to the tremendous 
sentence of eternal death, so, in another place, addressing those 
who have already been humbled under this knowledge, he 
omits all mention of the law, and consoles them with a promise 
of grace — " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy 
laden, and I will give you rest ; and ye shall find rest unto 
your souls." (c) 

X. At length, after our adversaries have wearied themselves 
with perversions of Scripture, they betake themselves to sub- 
tleties and sophisms. They cavil, that faith is in some places 
called a work, [d) and hence they infer that we improperly 
oppose faith to works. As though faith procured righteousness 
for us by its intrinsic merit, as an act of obedience to the Divine 
will, and not rather because, by embracing the Divine mercy, it 
seals to our hearts the righteousness of Christ, which that mercy 
offers to us in the preaching of the gospel. The reader will 
pardon me for not dwelling on the confutation of such follies ; 
for they require nothing to refute them but their own weakness. 
But I wish briefly to answer one objection, which has some ap- 
pearance of reason, to prevent its being the source of any dif- 
ficulty to persons who have had but little experience. Since 
common sense dictates that opposites are subject to similar 
rules, and as all sins are imputed to us for unrighteousness, 
they maintain it to be reasonable, on the other hand, that all 
good works should be imputed to us for righteousness. Those 
who reply, that the condemnation of men proceeds from un- 
belief alone, and not from particular sins, do not satisfy me. I 
agree with them, that incredulity is the fountain and root of all 
evils. For it is the original defection from God, which is 
afterwards followed by particular transgressions of the law. 
But as they appear to fix one and the same rule for good 
and evil works in forming a judgment of righteousness or un- 
righteousness, here I am obliged to dissent from them. For 
the righteousness of works is the perfect obedience of the law. 
We cannot therefore be righteous by works, unless we follow 
this straight line throughout the whole of our lives. The first 
deviation from it is a lapse into unrighteousness. Hence it 
appears that righteousness arises not from one or a few works, 

(c) -Malt. xi. 28, 29 {d) John vi. 29. 



62 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

but from an inflexible and indefatigable observance of the 
Divine will. But the rule of judging of um-ighteousness is very 
different. For he who has committed fornication or theft, is 
for one transgression liable to the sentence of death, because he 
has offended against the divine Majesty. These disputants of 
ours, therefore, fall into an error for want of adverting to the 
decision of James, that " whosoev er shall keep the whole law, 
and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." For he that 
said, " Do not commit adultery," said also, " Do not kill," &c (e) 
It ought not, therefore, to be deemed absurd, when we say, that 
death is the reward justly due to every sin, because they are all 
and every one deserving of the indignation and vengeance of God. 
But it wiJl be a weak argument to infer, on the contrary, tl at 
one good work will reconcile a man to God, whose wrath he 
has incurred by a multitude of sins. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

ON CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. 



We have now to treat of Christian liberty, an explanation of 
which ought not to be omitted in a treatise which is designed 
to comprehend a compendious summary of evangelical doctrine, 
For it is a subject of the first importance, and unless it be well 
understood, our consciences scarcely venture to undertake any 
thing without doubting, experience in many things hesitation 
and reluctance, and are always subject to fluctuations and fears. 
But especially it is an appendix to justification, and affords no 
small assistance towards the knowledge of its influence. Hence 
they who sincerely fear God will experience the incomparable 
advantage of that doctrine, which impious scoffers pursue with 
their railleries ; because in the spiritual intoxication with which 
they are seized, they allow themselves the most unbounded 
impudence. Wherefore this is the proper time to introduce the 
subject ; and though we have slightly touched upon it on some 
former occasions, yet it was useful to defer the full discussion 
of it to this place ; because, as soon as any mention is made of 
Christian liberty, then either inordinate passions rage, or violent 
emotions arise, unless timely opposition be made to those 
wanton spirits, who most nefariously corrupt things which are 
otherwise the best. For some, under the pretext of this liberty, 

(e) James ii. 10, 11. 



CHAP. XIX. j CHRISTIAN UKLIGION. 63 

cast off all obedience to God, and precipitate themselves into 
tlie most unbridled licentiousness ; and some despise it, sup- 
posing it to be subversive of all moderation, order, and mora 
distinctions. What can we do in this case, surrounded by such 
ditiiculties ? Shall we entirely discard Christian liberty, and so 
pieclude the occasion of such dangers? But, as we have ob- 
served, unless this be understood, there can be no right know- 
ledge of Christ, or of evangelical truth, or of internal peace of 
mind. We should rather exert ourselves to prevent the suj> 
pression of such a necessary branch of doctrine, and at the 
same time to obviate those absurd objections which are fre- 
ijuently deduced from it. 

II. Christian liberty, according to my judgment, consists 
of three parts. The first part is, that the consciences of be-| 
lie vers, when seeking an assurance of their justification before} 
God, should raise themselves above the law, and forget all the 
righteousness of the law. For since the law, as we have else- 
where demonstrated, leaves no man righteous, either we must 
be excluded from all hope of justification, or it is necessary for 
us to be delivered from it, and that so completely as not to have 
any dependence on works. For he who imagines, that in order 
to obtain righteousness he must produce any works, however 
small, can fix no limit or boundary, but renders himself a debtor 
to the whole law. Avoiding, therefore, all mention of the law, 
and dismissing all thought of our own works, in reference to 
justification, we must embrace the Divine men^ alone, and 
turning our eyes from ourselves, fix them solely on Christ. 
For the question is, not how we can be righteous, but how, 
though unrighteous and unworthy, we can be considered as 
righteous. And the conscience that desires to attain any cer- 
tainty respecting this, must give no admission to the law. Nor 
will this authorize any one to conclude, that the law is of 
no use to believers, whom it still continues to instruct and 
exhort, and stimulate to duty, although it has no place in their 
consciences before the tribunal of God. For these two things, 
being very different, require to be properly and carefully dis- 
tinguished by us. The whole life of Christians ought to be an 
exercise of piety, since they are called to sanctification. (/) It 
is tlie office of the law to remind them of their duty, and there- 
by to excite them to the pursuit of holiness and integrity. But 
when their consciences are solicitous how God may be propi- 
tiated, what answer they shall make, and on what they shall 
rest their confidence, if called to his tribunal, there must then 
be no consideration of the requisitions of the law, but Christ 
alone must be proposed for righteousness, who exceeds all the 
perfection of the law. 

(/) Ephes. i. 4. 1 Thess. iv. 3, 7. 



64 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK I 

III. On this point turns almost the whole argument of the 
Epistle to the Galatians. For that they are erroneous ex- 
positors, who maintain, that Paul there contends only for liberty 
from ceremonies, may be proved from the topics of his reasoning. 
Such as these : " Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the 
law, being made a curse for us." (g) Again : " Stand fast, there- 
fore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be 
not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul 
say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you 
nothing. Every man that is circumcised is a debtor to do the 
whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever 
of you are justified by the law ; ye are fallen from grace." (A) 
These passages certainly comprehend something more exalted 
than a freedom from ceremonies. I confess, indeed, that Paul 
is there treating of ceremonies, because he is contending with 
the false apostles, who attempted to introduce again into the 
Christian Church the ancient shadows of the law, which had 
been abolished by the advent of Christ. But for the decision 
of :his question it was necessary to discuss some higher topics, in 
which the whole controversy lay. First, because the brightness 
of the gospel was obscured by those Jewish shadows, he shows 
that in Christ we have a complete exhibition of all those things 
which were adumbrated by the ceremonies of Moses. Secondly, 
because these impostors instilled into the people the very perni- 
cious opinion, that this ceremonial obedience was sufficient to 
merit the Divine favour, he principally contends, that be- 

( lievers ought not to suppose that they can obtain righteousness 
I before God by any works of the law, much less by those in- 
ferior elements. And he at the same time teaches, that from 
the condemnation of the law, w^hich otherwise impends over all 
men, they are delivered by the cross of Christ, that they may 
rely with perfect security on him alone — atopic which properly 
belongs to our present subject. Lastly, he asserts the liberty of 
the consciences of believers, which ought to be laid under no 
obligation in things that are not necessary. 

IV. The second part of Christian liberty, which is dependent 
on the first, is, that their consciences do not observe the law, as 
being under any legal obligation ; but that, being liberated from 

I the yoke of the law, they yield a voluntary obedience to the 

I will of God. For being possessed with perpetual terrors, as 

~ long as they remain under the dominion of the law, they will 

^ never engage with alacrity and promptitude in the service of 

V God, unless they have previously received this liberty. We 

shall more easily and clearly discover the design of these things 

from an example. The precept of the law is, " Thou shall 

(g) Gal. iii. 13. (h) Gal. v. 1—4. 



CHAP. XIX.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 66 

love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy 
soul, and with all thy might." (i) That this command may be 
fulfilled, our soul must be previously divested of every othei 
perception and thought, our heart must be freed from all desires, 
and our might must be collected and contracted to this one point. 
Those who, compared with others, have made a very consi- 
derable progress in the way of the Lord, are yet at an innnenst^ 
distance from this perfection. For though they love God with 
their soul, and with sincere affection of heart, yet they have stili 
much of their heart and soul occupied by carnal desires, which 
retard their progress towards God. They do indeed press 
forward with strong exertions, but the flesh partly debilitates 
their strength, and partly attracts it to itself. What can they do 
in this case, when they perceive that they are so far from ob- 
serving the law ? They wish, they aspire, they endeavour, but 
they do nothing with the perfection that is required. If they 
advert ^o the law, they see that every work they attempt oi 
meditat«> is accursed. Nor is there the least reason for any 
person to deceive himself, by concluding that an action is not 
necessarily altogether evil, because it is imperfect, and thai 
therefore the good part of it is accepted by God. For the law, 
requiring perfect love, condemns all imperfection, unless its 
rigour be mitigated. Let him consider his work, therefore, 
which he wished to be thought partly good, and he will find 
that very work to be a transgression of the law, because it is 
imperfect. 

V. See how all our works, if estimated according to the 
rigour of the law, are subject to its curse. How, then, could 
unhappy souls apply themselves with alacrity to any work for 
which they could expect to receive nothing but a curse ? On , 
the contrary, if they are liberated from the severe exaction of 
the law, or rather from the whole of its rigour, and hear God 
calling them with paternal gentleness, then with cheerfulness j, 
and prompt alacrity they will answer to his call and follow his y 
guidance. In short, they who are bound by the yoke of the 
law, are like slaves who have certain daily tasks appointed by 
their masters. They think they have done nothing, and pre- 
sume not to enter into the presence of their masters without 
having finished the work prescribed to them. But children, 
who are treated by their parents in a more liberal manner, 
hesitate not to present to them their imperfect, and in some 
respects faulty works, in confidence that their obedience and 
promptitude of mind will be accepted by them, though they 
have not performed all that they wished. Such children ought 
we to be, feeling a certain confidence that our services, howevei 

(i) Deut. vi. 5. 



66 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK Hi 

small, rude, and imperfect, will be approved by our most indul- 
gent Father. This he also confirms to us by the prophet : '' I 
will spare them," saith he, '-as a man spareth his own son that 
serveth him ; " (k) where it is evident, from the mention of 
service, that the word spare is used to denote indulgence, or an 
overlooking of faults. And we have great need of this confi- 
dence, without which all our endeavours will be vain ; for 
God considers us as serving him in none of our works, but 
such as are truly done by us to his honour. But how can 
this be done amidst those terrors, where it is a matter of doubt 
whether our works oflfend God or honour him ? 

VI. This is the reason why the author of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews refers to faith, and estimates only by faith, all the 

,/ good works which are recorded of the holy patriarchs, (l) On 
^ this liberty there is a remarkable passage in the Epistle to the 
V Romans, where Paul reasons that sin ought not to have do- 
'' minion over us, because we are not under the law, but under 
"" grace, (m) For after he had exhorted believers, " liCt not 
sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body ; neither yield ye 
your members as instruments of unrighteousness ; but yield 
yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, 
and your members as instrumentis of righteousness unto 
God," (ti) — they might, on the contrary, object that they yet 
carried about with them the flesh full of inordinate desires, and 
that sin dwelt in them ; but he adds the consolation furnished 
by their liberty from the law ; as though he had said, Al- 
though you do not yet experience sin to be destroyed, and 
righteousness living in you in perfection, yet you have no 
cause for terror and dejection of mind, as if God were perpetu- 
ally offended on account of your remaining sin ; because by 
, grace you are emancipated from the law, that your works may 
not be judged according to that rule. But those, who infer 
that we may commit sin because we are not under the law, 
may be assured that they have no concern with this liberty, 
the end of which is to animate us to virtue. 

VII. The third part of Christian liberty teaches us, that we 
, are bound by no obligation before God respecting external 

I things, which in themselves are indifferent ; but that we may 
l indifferently sometimes use, and at other times omit them. 
\ And the knowledge of this liberty also is very necessary for 
us ; for without it we shall have no tranquillity of conscience, 
nor will there be any end of superstitions. Many in the pre- 
sent age think it a folly to raise any dispute concerning the 
free use of meats, of days, and of habits, and similar subjects, 
considenng the.se thmgs as frivolous and nugatory ; but they 

(k) Mai. iii. 17. {I) Heb. li. 2. (m) Rom. vi. 14. (n) Rom. ri. 12, 13. 



CHAP. XIX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 67 

are of greater importance than is generally believed. For 
when the conscience has once fallen into the snare, it enters a 
long and inextricable labyrinth, from which it is afterwards 
difficult to escape ; if a man begin to doubt the lawfulness of 
using flax in sheets, shirts, handkerchiefs, napkins, and table 
cioths, neither will he be certain respecting hemp, and at last 
he will doubt of the lawfulness of using tow ; for he will 
consider with himself Avhether he cannot eat without table 
cloths or napkins, whether he cannot do without handkerchiefs. 
If any one imagine delicate food to be unlawful, he will ere 
long have no tranquillity before God in eating brown bread and 
connrion viands, while he remembers that he might support 
his body with meat of a quality still inferior. If he hesitate 
respecting good wine, he will afterwards be unable with any 
peace of conscience to drink the most vapid ; and at last he will 
not presume even to touch purer and sweeter water than others. 
In short, he will come to think it criminal to step over a twig 
that lies across his path. For this is the commencement of no t^, 
trivial controversy ; but the dispute is whether the use of cer- 
tain things be agreeable to God, whose will ought to guide all " 
our resolutions and all our actions. The necessary consequence 
is, that some are hurried by despair into a vortex of confusion, 
from which they see no way of escape ; and some, despising 
God, and casting otf all fear of him, make a way of ruin for 
themselves. For all, who are involved in such doubts, which 
way soever they turn their views, behold something offensive 
to their consciences presenting itself on every side. 

VIII. " I know," says Paul, " that there is nothing unclean^ ^ 
of itself; but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean/t'-^ 
to him it is unclean." (o) In these words he makes all ex-l ^ 
ternal things subject to our liberty, provided that oar minds; 
have regard to this liberty before God. But if any supersti-i 
tious notion cause us to scruple, those things which were 
naturally pure become contaminated to us. Wherefore he sub- 
joins, " Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that 
which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is condemned if 
he eat, because he eateth not of faith ; for whatsoever is not 
of faith is sin." (p) Are not they, who in these perplexities 
show their superior boldness by the security of their presump- 
tion, guilty of departing from God? whilst they who are deeply 
affected with the true fear of God, when they are even con- 
strained to admit many things to which their own consciences 
are averse, are filled with terror and consternation. No persons 
of this description receive any of the gifts of God with thanks- 
giving, by which alone Paul, nevertheless, declares them to be 
all sanctified to our use. {q) I mean a thanksgiving proceeding 

(o) Rom. xiv. 14. (p) Rom. xiv. 22, 23. (q) 1 Tim. iv. 5. 



68 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

from a mind which acknowledges the beneficence and good- 
ness of God in the blessings he bestows. For many of them, 
indeed, apprehend the good things which they use to be from 
God, whom they praise in his works ; but not being persuaded 
that they are given to them, how could they give thanks to 
God as the giver of them ? We see, in short, the tendency of 
this liberty, which is, that without any scruple of conscience or 
perturbation of mind, we should devote the gifts of God to that 
use for which he has given them ; by which confidence our 
souls may have peace with him, and acknowledge his liberality 
towards us. For this comprehends all ceremonies, the observa- 
tion of which is left free, that the conscience may not be bound 
by any obligation to observe them, but may remember that by 
the goodness of God it may use them, or abstain from them, as 
shall be most conducive to edification. 

IX. Now, it must be carefully observed, that Christian liberty 
is in all its branches a spiritual thing ; all the virtue of which 
consists in appeasing terrified consciences before God, whether 
they are disquieted and solicitous concerning the remission of 
their sins, or are anxious to know if their works, which are im- 
perfect and contaminated by the defilements of the flesh, be 
acceptable to God ; or are tormented concerning the use of 
things that are indifferent. Wherefore they are guilty of per- 
verting its meaning, who either make it the pretext of their 
irregular appetites, that they may abuse the Divine blessings to 
the purposes of sensuality, or who suppose that there is no 
liberty but what is used before men, and therefore in the exer- 
cise of it totally disregard their weak brethren. The former 
of these sins is the more common in the present age. There 
is scarcely any one, whom his wealth permits to be sumptuous, 
who is not delighted with luxurious splendour in his enter- 
tainments, in his dress, and in his buildings ; who does not 
desire a preeminence in every species of luxury ; who does not 
strangely flatter himself on his elegance. And all these things 
are defended under the pretext of Christian liberty. They allege 
that they are things indifferent ; this I admit, provided they be 
indifferently used. But where they are too ardently coveted, 
proudly boasted, or luxuriously lavished, these things, of them- 
selves otherwise indifferent, are completely polluted by such 
vices. This passage of Paul makes an excellent distinction 
respecting things which are indifferent : " Unto the pure all 
things are pure ; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving 
is nothing pure ; but even their mind and conscience is de- 
filed." (r) For why are curses denounced on rich men, who 
''receive their c insolation,'' who are "satiated," who "now 

(r) Titus i. 15. 



CHAP. XIX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 69 

laugh," who " lie on beds of ivory," who "join field to field," 
who " have the harp, and the lyre, and the tabret, and wine in 
their feasts ? " (s) Ivory and gold, and riches of all kinds, are 
certainly blessings of Divine Providence, not only permitted, 
but expressly designed for the use of men ; nor are we any where 
prohibited to laugh, or to be satiated with food, or to annex 
new possessions to those already enjoyed by ourselves or by our 
ancestors, or to be delighted with musical harmony, or to drink 
wine. This indeed is true ; but amidst an abundance of all 
things, to be immersed in sensual delights, to inebriate the 
heart and mind with present pleasures, and perpetually to grasp 
at new ones, — these things are very remote from a legitimate use 
of the Divine blessings. Let them banish, therefore, immoderate 
cupidity, excessive profusion, vanity, and arrogance ; that with ^ 
a pure conscience they may make a proper use of the gifts of ^' 
God. When their hearts shall be formed to this sobriety, they i^ 
will have a rule for the legitimate enjoyment of them. On the 
contrary, without this moderation, even common and ordina- 
ry pleasures are chargeable with excess. For it is truly ob- 
served, that a proud heart frequently dwells under coarse and 
ragged garments, and that simplicity and humility are some- 
times concealed under purple and fine linen. Let all men, in 
their respective stations, whether of poverty, of competence, or of 
splendour, live in the remembrance of this truth, that God confers 
his blessings on them for the support of life, not for luxury ; and 
let them consider this as the law of Christian liberty, that they 
learn the lesson which Paul had learned, when he said, " I have 
learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 1 
know both how to be abased, and 1 know how to abound : every 
where and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be 
hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." [t) 

X. Many persons err likewise in this respect, that, as if their ^ ^-W;; 
liberty would not be perfectly secure unless witnessed by men, *' ^ 
they make an indiscriminate and imprudent use of it- -a dis- 
orderly practice, which occasions frequent offence to then* weak 
brethren. There are some to be found, in the present day, 
who imagine their liberty would be abridged, if they were not 
to enter on the enjoyment of it by eating animal food on Friday. 
Their eating is not the subject of my reprehension ; but theii 
minds require to be divested of this false notion ; for they ought 
to consider, that they obtain no advantage from their liberty 
before men, but with God ; and that it consists in abstinence 
as well as in use. If they apprehend it to be immaterial ii. 
God's view, whether they eat animal food or eggs, whether 
their garments be scarlet or black, it is quite sufficient. The 

(5) Luke vi. 24, 25. Amos vi. 1, *-c Isaiah v. 8, &c. («) Phil. iv. 11, 12. 



70 INSTITUTES OF THE [ 



BOOK III. 



X 



conscience, lo which the benefit of this liberty \fas due, is now 
emancipated. Therefore, though they abstain from flesh, and 
wear but one color, during all the rest of their lives, this is no 
diminution of their freedom. Nay, because they are free, they 
therefore abstain with a free conscience. But they fall into a very 
pernicious error in disregarding the infirmity of their brethren, 
which it becomes us to bear, so as not rashly to do any thing 
which would give them the least offence. But it will be said, 
that it is sometimes right to assert our liberty before men. 
This I confess ; yet the greatest caution and moderation must 
be observed, lest we cast off" all concern for the weak, whom 
God has so strongly recommended to our regards. 

XI. I shall now, therefore, make some observations con 
cerning offences ; how they are to be discriminated, what are to 
be avoided, and what are to be disregarded ; whence we may 
afterwards determine what room there is for our liberty in our 
intercourse with mankind. I approve of the common distinc- 
tion between an offence given and an offence taken, since it is 
plainly countenanced by Scripture, and is likewise sufficiently 
significant of the thing intended to be expressed. If you do 
any thing at a wrong time or place, or with an unseasonable 
levity, or wantonness, or temerity, by which the weak and in- 
experienced are offended, it must be termed an oflfence given 
by you ; because it arises from your fault. And an offence is 
always said to be given in any action, the fault of which pro- 
ceeds from the performer of that action. An offence taken is, 
when any transaction, not otherwise unseasonable or culpable, 
is, through malevolence, or some perverse disposition, construed 
into an occasion of offence. For in this instance the offence is 
not given, but taken without reason by such perverseness of 
construction. The first species of offence affects none but the 
weak ; the second is created by moroseness of temper, and 
Pharisaical superciliousness. Wherefore we shall denominate 
the former, the offence of the weak, the latter, that of Pha- 
risees ; and we shall so temper the use of our liberty, that it 
ought to submit to the ignorance of weak brethren, but not at 
all to the austerity of Pharisees. For our duty to the weak, 
Paul fully shows in many places. " Him that is weak in the 
faith receive ye." Again: "Let us not therefore judge one 
another any more ; but judge this rather, that no man put a 
stiunbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way ; " (u) 
and much more to the same import, which were better exa- 
mined in its proper connection than recited here. The sum of 
all is, that " we, then, that are strong, ought to bear the infirmi- 
ties of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of 

(?/) Rom. xiv. 1, 13 



4 



CHAP. XIX.J CHRISTIAN RELIGIC N. 71 

US please his neighbour for his good to edification." (* / In 
another place : " But take heed lest by any means this liberty 
of yours become a stumbling-block to them that are weak." {w) 
Again : " Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat ; ask- 
ing no questions for conscience' sake ; conscience, I say, not 
thine own, but of the other." In short, "Give none offence, 
neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of 
God." (x) In another place also : " Brethren, ye have been 
called unto liberty ; only use not liberty for an occasion to the 
flesh, but by love serve one another." (y) The meaning of 
this is, that our liberty is not given us to be used in opposition 
to our weak neighbours, to whom charity obliges us to do 
every possible service ; but rather in order that, having peace 
with God in our minds, we may also live peaceably among 
men. But how much attention should be paid to an offence 
taken by Pharisees, we learn from our Lord's injunction, " Let 
them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind." {z) The 
disciples had informed him, that the Pharisees were offended 
with his discourse. He replies that they are to be let alone, 
and their offence disregarded. 

XII. But the subject is still pending in uncertainty, unless >s/ 
we know whom we are to account weak, and whom we are to 
consider as Pharisees ; without which distinction, I see no use 
of liberty in the midst of offences, but such as must be at- 
tended with the greatest danger. But Paul appears to me to 
have very clearly decided, both by doctrine and examples, how 
far our liberty should be either moderated or asserted on the 
occurrence of offences. When he made Timothy his associates 
he circumcised him ; (a) but could not be induced to circum 
cise Titus. (6) Here was a difference in his proceedings, but 
no change of mind or of purpose. In the circumcision of Ti- 
mothy, " though he was free from all men, yet he made himselT 
servant unto all ; " and says he, " Unto the Jews I became as a 
Jew, that I might gain the Jews ; to them that are under th(^ 
law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under 
the law : I am made all things to all men, that I might by nil 
means save some." (c) Thus we have a proper moderation <>f 
liberty, if it may be indifferently restricted with any advantage. 
His reason for resolutely refraining from circumcising Titus, 
he declares in the following words : " But neither Titus, who 
was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised , 
and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who 
came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ 
Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage ; to whom we 

(r) Rom. XV. 1, 2 (y) Gal. v. 13. (b) Gal. ii, 3. 

(w) 1 Cor. viii. 9. (z) Matt. xv. 14. (c) 1 Cor. ix. 19, 

(z) 1 Cor X 25, 29, 32. (a) Acts xvi. 3. 20, 22. 



72 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK I ' 

gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour ; that the truth 
of the gospel might continue with you." (tZ) We also are 
under the necessity of vindicating our liberty, if it be endan- 
j g(3red in weak consciences by the iniquitous requisitions of 
"M- false apostles. We must at all times study charity, and keep 
f> in view the edification of our neighbour. "All things (says 
-J- Paul) are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient : all 
things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man 
seek his own, but every man another's." (e) Nothing can be 
plainer than this rule, that our liberty should be used, if it con- 
-4 duces to our neighbour's edification ; but that if it be not bene- 
, ficial to our neighbour, it should be abridged. There are some, 
^ who pretend to imitate the prudence of Paul m refraining from 
the exercise of liberty, while they are doing any thing but ex- 
ercising the duties of charity. For to promote their own tran- 
quillity, they wish all mention of liberty to be buried ; whereas 
it is no less advantageous to our neighbours sometimes to use 
our liberty to their benefit and edification, than at other times 
to moderate it for their accommodation. But a pious man con- 
siders this liberty in external things as granted him in order 
i that he may be the better prepared for all the duties of charity. 

XIII. Bat whatever I have advanced respecting the avoid- 
ance of ofiences, I wish to be referred to indiiferent and un- 
important things ; for necessary duties must not be omitted 
1 through fear of any offence : as our liberty should be subject 
I to charity, so charity itself ought to be subservient to the purity 
i of faith. It becomes us, indeed, to have regard to charity ; but 
we must not oftend God for the love of our neighbour. We 
cannot approve the intemperance of those who do nothing but in 
a tumultuous manner, and who prefer violent measures to le- 
nient ones. Nor must we listen to those, who, while they show 
themselves the leaders in a thousand species of impiety, pretend 
that they are obliged to act in such a manner, that they may give 
no offence to their neighbours ; as though they are not at the 
same time fortifying the consciences of their neighbours in sin ; 
especially since they are always sticking in the same mire 
without any hope of deliverance. And whether their neighbour 
is to be instructed by doctrine or by example, they maintain 
that he ought to be fed with milk, though they are infecting 
him with the worst and most pernicious notions. Paul tells 
the Corinthians, " I have fed you with milk; " (/) but if the 
Popish mass had been then introduced among them, would he 
have united in that pretended sacrifice in order to feed them 
with milk ? Certainly not ; for milk is not poison. They are 
guilty of falsehood, therefore, in saying that they feed those 

(i) Gal. ii. 3—5. (e) 1 Cor. x. 23, 24. (/) t Cor iii. 2. 



u/ 



CHAP. XIX.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 73 

whom they cruelly murder under the appearance of such flat- 
teries. But admitting that such dissimulation is to be approved 
for a time, how long will they feed their children with the 
same milk? For if they never grow, so as to be able to bear 
even some light meat, it is a clear proof that they were never 
fed with milk. I am prevented from pushing this con- 
troversy with them any further at present, by two reasons — 
first, because their absurdities scarcely deserve a refutation, 
being justly despised by all men of sound undf^rstanding ; 
secondly, having done this at large in particular treatises, I am 
unwilling to travel the same ground over again. Only let the «^ 
readers remember, that with whatever offences Satan and the 
world may endeavour to divert us from the ordinances of God, 
or to retard our pursuit of what he enjoins, yet we must never- 
theless strenuously advance ; and moreover, that whatever dan- 
gers threaten us, we are not at liberty to deviate even a hair's 
breadth from his command, and that it is not lawful under any 
pretext to attempt any thing but what he permits. 

XIV. Now, since the consciences of believers, being pri- 
vileged with the liberty which we have described, have been 
delivered by the favour of Christ from all necessary obliga- 
tion to the observance of those things in which the Lord has 
been pleased they should be left free, we conclude that they 
are exempt from all human authority. For it is not right that 
Christ should lose the acknowledgments due to such kindness, 
or our consciences the benefit of it. Neither is that to be 
accounted a trivial thing, which we see cost Christ so much ; 
which he estimated not with gold or silver, but with his own 
blood ; (w) so that Paul hesitates not to assert, that his death is 
rendered vain, if we suffer our souls to be in subjection to men. (o) 
For his sole object in some chapters of his Epistle to the Gala- 
tians is to prove that Christ is obscured, or rather abolished, with 
respect to us, unless our consciences continue in their liberty ; 
from which they are certainly fallen, if they can be insnared in 
the bonds of laws and ordinances at the pleasure of men. (p) 
But as it is a subject highly worthy of being understood, so it 
needs a more diffuse and perspicuous explanation. For as soon 
as a word is mentioned concerning the abrogation of human 
establishments, great tumults are excited, partly by seditious 
persons, partly by cavillers ; as though all obedience of men 
were at once subverted and destroyed. 

XV. To prevent any one from falling into this error, let us 
therefore consider, in the first place, that man is under two kinds 
of goverrirrjent — one spiritual, by which the conscience is 
formed to piety and the service of God ; the other political, by 

(n) 1 Peter 18, 19. (o) Gal. v. 1, 4. (p) 1 Cor. vii. 2:J 

vol.. II. 10 



4 



/I. INSTITUTES OF THE [BOOK III 

which a man is instructed in the duties of himanity and civi 
lity, which are to be observed in an intercourse with mankind. 
They are generally, and not improperly, denominated the 
spiritual and the temporal jurisdiction; indicating that the 
former species of government pertains to the life of the soul, and 
that the latter relates to the concerns of the present state ; not 
only to the provision of food and clothing, but to the enactment 
of laws to regulate a man's life among his neighbours by the 
rules of holiness, integrity, and sobriety. For the former has its 
seat in the interior of the mind, whilst the latter only directs 
the external conduct : one may be termed a spiritual kingdom, 
and the other a political one. But these two, as we have dis- 
tinguished them, always require to be considered separately ; 
and while the one is under discussion, the mind must be ab- 
stracted from all consideration of the other. For man contains, 
as it were, two worlds, capable of being governed by various 
rulers and various laws. This distinction will prevent what 
the gospel inculcates concerning spiritual liberty from being 
misapplied to political regulations ; as though Christians were 
less subject to the external government of human laws, because 
their consciences have been set at liberty before God ; as 
though their freedom of spirit necessarily exempted them from 
all carnal servitude. Again, because even in those constitutions 
which seem to pertain to the spiritual kingdom, there may 
possibly be some deception, it is necessary to discriminate 
between these also ; which are to be accounted legitimate, as 
according with the Divine word, and which, on the contrary, 
ought not to be received among believers. Of civil govern- 
ment I shall treat in another place. Of ecclesiastical laws 
also I forbear to speak at present ; because a full discussion of 
them will be proper in the Fourth Book, where we shall treaf 
of the power of the Church. But we shall conclude the present 
argument in the following manner : The question, which, as 1 
have observed, is in itself not very obscure or intricate, greatly 
perplexes many, because they do not distinguish with sufficient 
precision between the external jurisdiction and the court of 
conscience. The difficulty is increased by Paul's injunction to 
obey magistrates " not only for wrath, but also for conscience' 
sake ;" (q) from which it should follow, that the conscience also 
is bound by political laws. But if this were true, it would 
supersede all that we have already said, or are now about to 
say, respecting spiritual government. For the solution of this 
difficulty, it will be of use, first, to know what conscience is, 
And the definition of it must be derived from the etymology of 
the word. For as, when men apprehend the knowledge of 

((/) Rom. xiii. 1, 5. 



CHAP. XIX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 75 

things in thd mind and understanding, they are ihence said 
scire, " to know," whence is derived the word scientia, 
■' science " or " knowledge ; " so when they have a sense of 
Divine justice, as an additional witness, which permits them 
not to conceal their sins, or to elude accusation at the tribunal 
of the supreme Judge, this sense is termed conscientia, " con- 
science." For it is a kind of medium between God and man ; 
because it does not suffer a man to suppress what he knows 
within himself, but pursues him till it brings him to conviction. 
This is what Paul means by " their conscience also bearing 
witness, and their thoughts accusing, or else excusing, one 
another." (r) Simple knowledge might remain, as it were, 
confined within a man. This sentiment, therefore, which 
places man before the Divine tribunal, is appointed, as it were, 
to watch over man, to observe and examine all his secrets, that 
nothing may remain enveloped in darkness. Hence the old 
proverb, Conscience is as a thousand witnesses. For the same 
reason Peter speaks of " the answer of a good conscience 
towards God," (s) to express our tranquillity of mind, when, 
persuaded of the favour of Christ, we present ourselves with 
boldness in the presence of God. And the author of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews expresses absolution or freedom from 
every future charge of sin, by "having no more conscience 
of sin." {t) 

XVI. Therefore, as works respect men, so conscience regards 
God ; so that a good conscience is no other than inward in- 
tegrity of heart. In which sense Paul says, that "the end of 
tlTe" commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good 
conscience, and of faith unfeigned." (w) Afterwards also, in 
the same chapter, he shows how widely it differs from under- 
standing, saying, that " some, having put away a good con- 
science, concerning faith have made shipwreck." [w) For 
these words indicate that it is a lively inclination to the service 
of God, and a sincere pursuit of piety and holiness of life. 
Sometimes, indeed, it is likewise extended to men ; as when 
the same apostle declares, " Herein do I exercise myself, to 
have always a conscience void of offence toward God and 
toward men." [x) But the reason of this assertion is, that the 
fruits of a good conscience reach even to men. But in strict 
propriety of speech it has to do with God alone, as I have 
already observed. Hence it is that a law, which simply binds 
a man without relation to other men, or any consideration of 
them, is said to bind the conscience. For example, God not 
only enjoins the preservation of the mind chaste ajid piu:e from 
every libidinous desire, but prohibits all obscenity of languag*? 

(r) Rom. ii. 15. {t) Heb. x. 2. {w) 1 Tim. i. 19. 

Is) 1 Peter iii. 21. (m) 1 Tim. i. 5. Tr"' Vets xxiv. 16. 



76 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOR IH, 

and external lasciviousness. The observance of this law is in- 
cumbent on my conscience, though there were not another man 
existing in the world. Thus he who transgresses the limits of 
temperance, not only sins by giving a bad example to hia 
brethren, but contracts guilt on his conscience before God, 
Things in themselves indifferent are to be guided by other 
considerations. It is our duty to abstain from them, if they 
tend to the least offence, yet without violating our liberty of 
conscience. So Paul speaks concerning meat consecrated to 
idols : "If any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice 
to idols, eat not for conscience' sake ; conscience, I say, not 
thine own, but of the other." {y) A pious man would be guilty 
of sin, who, being previously admonished, should, nevertheless, 
eat such meat. But though, with respect to his brother, 
abstinence is necessary for him, as it is enjoined by God, yet 
he ceases not to retain liberty of conscience. We see, then, 
how this law, though it binds the externa' action, leaves the 
conscience free. 



CHAPTER XX. 



ON PRAYER, THE PRINCIPAL EXERCISE OF FAITH, AND THF. 
MEDIUM OF OUR DAILY RECEPTION OF DIVINE BLESSINGS. 

From the subjects already discussed, we clearly perceive 
how utterly destitute man is of every good, and in want of all 
the means of salvation. Wherefore, if he seek for relief in his 
necessities, he must go out of himself, and obtain it from some 
other quarter. It has been subsequently stated, that the Lord 
voluntarily and liberally manifests himself in his Christ, in 
whom he offers us all felicity instead of our misery, and opu- 
lence instead of our poverty ; in whom he opens to our view the 
treasures of heaven, that our faith may be wholly engaged in 
the contemplation of his beloved Son, that all our expectation 
may depend upon him, and that in him all our hope may rest 
and be fully satisfied. This, indeed, is that secret and recondite 
philosophy, which cannot be extracted from syllogisms ; but 
is well understood by those whose eyes God has opened, that 
in his light they may see light. But since we have been 
taught by faith to acknowledge, that whatever we want for 
the supply of our necessities is in God and our Lord Jesus 
Christ, in whom it has pleased the Father all the fulness of h)s 

{y) 1 Cor X. 28, 20. 



CHAP. XX.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 77 

bounty should dwell, that we may all draw from it, as from a 
most copious fountain, it remains for us to seek in him, and 
by prayers to implore of him, that which we have been in- 
formed resides in him. Otherwise to know God as the Lord 
and Giver of every good, who invites us to supplicate liim, but 
neither to approach him nor to supplicate him, would be equally 
unprofitable, as for a man to neglect a treasure discovered to 
him buried in the earth. Wherefore the apostle, to show that 
true faith cannot but be engaged in calling upon God, has laid 
down this order — that, as faith is produced by the gospel, so 
by faith our hearts are brought to invoke the name of the 
Lord, (z) And this is the same as he had a little before said, 
that the " Spirit of adoption," who seals the testimony of the 
gospel in our hearts, encourages our spirits, so that they ven- 
ture to pour out their desires before God, excite " groanings 
that cannot be uttered," and cry with confidence, "Abba, 
Father." (a) This last subject, therefore, having been before 
only cursorily mentioned and slightly touched, requires now to 
be treated more at large. 

IL By means of prayer, then, we penetrate to those riches 
which are reserved with our heavenly Father for our use. 
For between God and men there is a certain communication ; 
by which they enter into the sanctuary of heaven, and in his 
immediate presence remind him of his promises, in order that 
his declarations, which they have implicitly believed, may in 
time of necessity be verified in their experience. We see, 
therefore, that nothing is revealed to as, to be expected from 
the Lord, for which we are not likewise enjoined to pray ; so 
true is it, that prayer digs out those treasures, which the gos- 
pel of the Lord discovers to our faith. Now, the necessity and 
various utility of the exercise of prayer no language can suffi- 
cieutly explain. It is certainly not without reason that our 
heavenly Father declares, that the only fortress of salvation 
consists in invocation of his name ; by which we call to our 
aid the presence of his providence, which watches over all our 
concerns ; of his power, which supports us when weak and 
ready to faint ; and of his goodness, which receives us into 
favour, though miserably burdened with sins ; in which, 
finally, we call upon him to manifest his presence with us in 
all his attributes. Hence our consciences derive peculiar peace 
and tranquillity ; for when the affliction which oppressed us is 
represented to the Lord, we feel abundant composure even 
from this consideration — that none of our troubles are concealed 
from him, whom we know to possess both the g_reatest readi 
ness and the greatest ability to promote our truest interest. 

(z) Rom. X. 13, 14, 17 (a) Rom. viii. 15, 26. 



78 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III, 

111. But some will say, Does he not, without information. 
Know both our troubles and our necessities ; so that it may ap- 
pear unnecessary to solicit him with our prayers, as if he were 
inattentive or sleeping, till aroused by our voice? But such 
reasoners advert not to the Lord's end in teaching his people to 
pray ; for he has appointed it not so much for his own sake as 
for ours. It is his pleasure indeed, as is highly reasonable, that 
KTs right be rendered to him, by their considering him as the 
Author of all that is desired and found useful by men, and by 
their acknowledgments of this in their prayers. But the uti- 
lity of this sacrifice, by which he is worshipped, returns to us. 
The greater the confidence, therefore, with which the ancient 
saints gloried in the Divine benefits to themselves and others, 
with so much the more earnestness were they incited to pray. 
The single example of Elijah shall suffice, who, though certain 
of God's design, having already with sufficient authority pro- 
mised rain to king Ahab, yet anxiously prays between his 
knees, and sends his servant seven times to look for it ; (b) not 
with an intention to discredit the Divine oracle, but under a 
conviction of his duty to prevent his faith becoming languid 
and torpid, by pouring out his prayers before God. Where- 
fore, although, when we are stupid and insensible to our own 
miseries, he vigilantly watches and guards us, and sometimes 
affords us unsolicited succour, yet it highly concerns us as- 
siduously to supplicate him, that our heart may be always in- 
flamed with a serious and ardent desire of seeking, loving, and 
worshipping him, while we accustom ourselves in all our ne- 
cessities to resort to him as our sheet anchor. Further, that no 
desire or wish, which we should be ashamed for him to know, 
may enter our minds; when we learn to present our wishes, 
and so to pour out our whole heart in his presence. Next, 
that we may be prepared to receive his blessings with true 
gratitude of soul, and even with grateful acknowledgments ; 
being reminded by our praying that they come from his hand. 
Moreover, that when we have obtained what we sought, the 
persuasion that he has answered our requests may excite us to 
more ardent meditations on his goodness, and produce a more 
joyful welcome of those things which we acknowledge to be 
the fruits of our prayers. Lastly, that use and experience itself 
may yield our minds a confirmation of his providence in pro- 
portion to our imbecility, while we apprehend that he not only 
promises never to forsake us, and freely opens a way of access 
for our addressing him in the very moment of necessity ; but 
that his hand is always extended to assist his people, whom he 
does not feed with mere words, but supports with present aid 

(b) 1 Kings iviii. 42, &c. 



CHAP. XX.j CHRISTIAN RELIGIOX. 79 

On these accoinits our most merciful Father, though liable to 
ao sleep or languor, yet frequently appears as if he were sleepy 
or languid, in order to exercise us, who are otherwise slothful 
and inactive, in approaching, supplicating, and earnestly im- 
portuning him to our own advantage. It is extremely absurd, 
therefore, in them who, with a view to divert the minds of 
men from praying to God, pretend that it is useless for us by 
our interruptions to weary the Divine Providence, which is 
engaged in the conservation of all things ; whereas the Lord de- 
clares, on the contrary, that he -'is nigh to all that call upon 
him in truth." (c) And equally nugatory is the objection of 
others, that it is superfluous to petition for those things which 
the Lord is ready voluntarily to bestow ; whereas even those 
very things, which flow to us from his spontaneous liberality, 
he wishes us to consider as granted to our prayers. This is 
"evlliced by that memorable passage in the Psalms, as well as 
by many other correspondent texts, — " The eyes of the Lord 
are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their 
cry ; " [d) which celebrates the Divine Providence as sponta- 
neously engaged to accomplish the salvation of believers ; yet 
does not omit the exercise of faith, by which sloth is expelled 
from the minds of men The eyes of God, then, are vigilant 
to siiccour the necessity of the blind; but he is likewise will- 
ing to hear our groans, to give a better proof of his love 
towards us. And thus it is equally true, that " he that keep- 
eth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps," and yet that he remains, 
as it were, forgetful of us, while he beholds us slothful and 
dumb. 

IV. Now, for conducting prayer in a right and proper man- 
ner, the first rule is, that our heart and mind be composed to a 
suitable frame, becoming those who enter into conversation 
with God. This state of mind we shall certainly attain, if, 
divested of all carnal cares and thoughts, that tend to divert 
and seduce it from a right and clear view of God, it not only 
devotes itself entirely to the solemn exercise, but is likewise as 
far as possible elevated and carried above itself. Nor do I here 
require a mind so disengaged as to be disturbed by no solicitude ; 
since there ought, on the contrary, most anxiously to be kindled 
within us a fervency of prayer, (as we see the holy servants of 
God discover great solicitude, and even anguish, when they 
say they utter their complaints to the Lord from the deep 
abysses of afiiiction and the very jaws of death.) But I main- 
tain the necessity of dismissing all foreign and external cares, 
by which the wandering mind may be hurried hither and 
thither^ and dragged from heaven down to earth. It ought lo 

(c) Psalm cxlv. 18 {d) Psalm xxxiv. 15. 



80 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

be elevated above itself, that it may not intrude into the Divine 
presence any of the imaginations of our blind and foolish reason 
nor confine itself within the limits of its own vanity, but rise 
to purity worthy of God. 

V. Both these things are highly worthy of observation — first, 
that whoever engages in prayer, should apply all his faculties 
and attention to it, and not be distracted, as is commonly the 
case, with wandering thoughts ; nothing being more contrary 
to a reverence for God than such levity, which indicates a 
licentious spirit, wholly unrestrained by fear. In this case our 
exertions must be great in proportion to the difficulty we 
experience. For no man can be so intent on praying, but he 
may perceive many irregular thoughts intruding on him, and 
either interrupting, or by some oblique digression retarding, the 
course of his devotions. But here let us consider what an 
indignity it is, when God admits us to familiar intercourse with 
him, to abuse such great condescension by a mixture of things 
sacred and profane, while our thoughts are not confined to him 
by reverential awe ; but as if we were conversing with a mean 
mortal, we quit him in the midst of our prayer, and make 
excursions on every side. We may be assured, therefore, that 
none are rightly prepared for the exercise of prayer, but those 
who are so affected by the Divine Majesty as to come to it 
divested of all earthly cares and affections. And this is indi- 
cated by the ceremony of lifting up the hands, that men may 
remember that they are at a great distance from God, unless 
they lift up their thoughts on high. As it is also expressed in 
the psalm, " Unto thee do I lift up my soul." (e) And the Scrip- 
ture frequently uses this mode of expression, " to lift np one's 
prayer ; " that they, who desire to be heard by God, may not 
sink into lethargic inactivity. To sum up the whole, the 
greater the liberality of God towards us, in gently inviting us 
to disburden ourselves of our cares by casting them on him, 
the less excusable are we, unless his signal and incomparable 
favour preponderate with us beyond every thing else, and at- 
tract us to him in a serious application of all our faculties and 
attention to the duty of prayer ; which cannot be done unless 
our mind by strenuous exertion rise superior to every impedi- 
ment. Our second proposition is, that we must pray for no 
more than God permits. For though he enjoins us to pour out 
our hearts before him, (/) yet he does not carelessly give the 
reins to affections of folly and depravity ; and when he pro- 
mises to " fulfil the desire " (g) of believers, he does not go 
to such an extreme of indulgence, as to subject himself to their 
vjaprice. But offences against both these rules are common 

(e) Psalm XXV 1. (/) Psalm Ixii. 8. (^) Psalm cxlv. 19. 



3HAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 81 

and great ; for most men not only presume, without modesty or 
reverence, to address God concerning their foUies, and impu- 
dently to utter at his tribunal whatever has amused them in 
theii reveries or dreams, but so great is their folly or stupidity, 
that they dare to obtrude upon God all their foulest desires 
which they would be exceedingly ashamed to reveal to men. 
Some heathens have ridiculed and even detested this presump- 
tion, but the vice itself has always prevailed ; and hence it 
was th; t the ambitious chose Jupiter as their patron ; the ava- 
ricious, Mercury ; the lovers of learning, Apollo and Minerva ; 
the warlike, Mars ; and the libidinous, Venus ; just as in the 
present age (as 1 have lately hinted) men indulge a greater 

Jicense to their unlawful desires in their prayers, than if they 
were conversing in a jocular manner with their equals. God 
suffers not his indulgence to be so mocked, but asserts his 
power, and subjects our devotions to his commands. There- 
fore we ought to remember this passage in John : " This is the 
confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing ac- 
cording to his will, he heareth us." [h) But as our abilities are 
very unequal to such great perfection, we must seek some 
remedy to relieve us. As the attention of the mind ought to 
be fixed on God, so it is necessary that it should be followed 
by the affection of the heart. But they both remain far below 
this elevation ; or rather, to speak more consistently with truth, 
they grow weary and fail ni the ascent, or are carried a contrary | 
course. Therefore, to assist this imbecility, God gives us the 
Spirit, to be the director of our prayers, to suggest what is 

"right, anS ito regulate our affections. For " the Spirit helpeth 
()ur infirmities ; for we know not what we should pray for as 
we ought ; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us 
with groanings which cannot be uttered ; " (?) not that he 
really prays or groans ; but he excites within us confidence, 
desires, and sighs, to the conception of which our native 
powers were altogether inadequate. Nor is it without reason 
that Paul terms those "groanings," which arise from believers 
under the influence of the Spirit, " unutterable ; " because 
they who are truly engaged in prayers, are not ignorant that 
they are so perplexed with dubious anxieties, that they can 
scarcely decide what it is expedient to utter ; and even 
while they are attempting to lisp, they stammer and hesitate ; 
whence 't follows that the ability of praying rightly is a pe- 
culiar gift. These things are not said in order that we may 

""iTtthllg^e our own indolence, resigning the office of prayer to the 
Spirit of God, and growing torpid in that negligence to which 
we are too prone ; according to the impious errors of some, thai 

(7t) 1 John V. 14. (J) Rom. viii. 26. 

VOL. II. n 



82 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

we should wait iu indolent supineness till he call our minds froni 
other engagements and draw them to himself; but rather that, 
wearied with our sloth and inactivity, we may implore such as- 
sistance of the Spirit. Nor does the apostle, when he exhorts 
us to " pray in the Holy Ghost," (k) encourage us to remit our 
vigilance ; signifying, that the inspiration of the Spirit operates 
in the formation of our prayers, so as not in the least to impede 
or retard our own exertions ; since it is the will of God to 
prove in this instance the efficacious influence of faith on our 
hearts. 

VI. Let this be the second rule : That in our supplications 
we should have a real and permanent sense of our indigence, 
and seriously considering our necessity of all that we ask, 
should join with the petitions themselves a serious and ardent 
desire oT~o6taining them. For multitudes carelessly recite a 
form of prayer, as though they were discharging a task imposed 
on them by God ; and though they confess that this is a 
remedy necessary for their calamities, since it would be certain 
destruction to be destitute of the Divine aid which they im- 
plore, yet that they perform this duty merely in compliance 
with custom, is evident from the coldness of their hearts, and 
their inattention to the nature of their petitions. They are 
led to this by some general and confused sense of their ne- 
cessity, which nevertheless does not excite them to implore a 
relief for their great need as a case of present urgency. Now, 
what can we imagine more odious or execrable to God than 
this hypocrisy, when any man prays for the pardon of sins, 
who at the same time thinks he is not a sinner, or at least does 
(not think that he is a sinner ? which is an open mockery of 
' God himself. But such depravity, as I have before observed, 
pervades the whole human race, that as a matter of form they 
frequently implore of God many things which they either ex- 
pect to receive from some other source independent of his good- 
ness, or imagine themselves already to possess. The crime of 
some others appears to be smaller, but yet too great to be 
tolerated ; who, having only imbibed this principle, that God 
must be propitiated by devotions, mutter over their prayers 
without meditation. But believers ought to be exceedingly 
cautious, never to enter into the presence of God to present any 
petition, without being inflamed with a fervent affection of soul, 
and feeling an ardent desire to obtain it from him. Moreover, 
although in those things which we request only for the Divine 
glory, we do not at the first glance appear to regard our own 
necessity, yet it is incumbent on us to pray for them with 
equal fervour and vehemence of desire. As when we pray that 

(A) Jude 20. 1 Cor. xiv. 15 



CHAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 83 

his name may be hallowed, or sanctified, we ought (so to speak) 
ardently to hunger and thirst for that sanctification. 

VII. If any man object, that we are not always urged to 
pray by the same necessity, this I grant, and this distinction is 
usefully represented to us by James : " Is any among you af- 
flicted ? let him pray. Is any merry ? let him sing psalms." (l) 
Common sense itself therefore dictates, that because of our 
extreme indolence, we are the more vigorously stimulated by 
GoQ to earnestness in prayer according to the exigencies of our 
condition. And this David calls " a time when God may be 
found," (w) because (as he teaches in many other places) the 
more sever aly we are oppressed by troubles, disasters, fears, and 
other kinds of temptations, we have the greater liberty of access 
to God, as though he then particularly invited us to approach 
him. At the same time, it is equally true that we ought to be, 
as Paul says, "praying always," (n) because, how great soever 
we may believe the prosperity of our affairs, and though we are 
surrounded on every side by matter of joy, yet there is no mo- 
ment of time in which our necessity does not furnish incite- 
ments to prayer. Does any one abound in wine and corn ? 
Since he cannot enjoy a morsel of bread but by the continual 
favour of God, his cellars or barns afford no objection to his 
praying for daily bread. Now, if we reflect how many dangers 
threaten us every moment, fear itself will teach us that there is 
no time in which prayer is unsuitable to us. Yet this may be 
discovered still better in spiritual concerns. For when will so 
many sins, of which we are conscious, suffer us to remain in 
security, without humbly deprecating both the guilt and the 
punishment ? When will temptations grant us a truce, so that 
we need not be in haste to obtain assistance ? Besides, an 
ardent desire of the Divine kingdom and glory ought irresisti- 
bly to attract us, not by intervals, but without intermission, 
rendering every season equally suitable. It is not in vain, 
therefore, that assiduity in prayer is so frequently enjoined. I 
speak not yet of perseverance, which shall be mentioned here- 
after ; but the scriptural admonitions to " pray without ceas- 
ing " are so many reproofs of our sloth ; because we feel not 
our need of this care and diligence. This rule precludes and 
banishes from prayer, hypocrisy, subtilty, and falsehood. God 
promises that he will be near to all who call upon him in truth, 
and declares he will be found by those who seek him with 
their whole heart. But to this, persons pleased with their own 
impurity never aspire. Legitimate prayer, therefore, requires 
repentance. Whence it is frequently said in the Scriptures, 
that God hears not the wicked, and that their prayers are ao 



(I) James v. 13. (m) Psalm xxxii. 6. (n) Ephes. vi. 18. 



84 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

abomination ; as are also their sacrifices ; for it is reasonable 
that they who shut up their own hearts, should find the ears 
of God closed against them ; and God should be inflexible to 
them who provoke his rigour by their obduracy. In Isaiah, he 
threatens thus : " When ye make many prayers, I will not 
hear: your hands are full of blood." (o) Again in Jeremiah. 
" I protested, yet they inclined not their ear. Therefore, 
though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto 
them." (p) Because he considers himself grossly insulted by 
the wicked boasting of his covenant, while they are continually 
dishonouring his sacred name. Wherefore he complains, in 
Isaiah, " This people draw near me with their mouth, but 
have removed their heart far from me." (q) He does not re- 
strict this solely to prayer ; but asserts his abhorrence of hy- 
pocrisy in every branch of his worship. Which is the meaning 
of this passage in James : " Ye ask, and receive not, because 
ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." (r) It 
is true, indeed, (as we shall presently again see,) that the 
prayers of the faithful depend not on their personal worthiness ; 
yet this does not supersede the admonition of John : " What- 
soever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his com- 
mandments ; " (s) because an evil conscience shuts the gate 
against us. Whence it follows, that none pray aright, and that 
no others are heard, but the sincere worshippers of God. Who- 
soever therefore engages in prayer, should be displeased with 
himself on account of his sins, and assume, what he cannot do 
without repentance, the character and disposition of a beggar. 
VIII. To these must be added a Jhjrd^ruje — That whoever 
presents himself before God for the purpose of praying to him, 
must renounce every idea of his own glory, reject all opinion 
of his own merit, and, in a word, relinquish all confidence in 
himself, giving, by this humiliation of himself, all the glory 
entirely to God; lest, arrogating any thing, though ever so 
little, to ourselves, we perish from his presence in consequence 
of our vanity. Of this submission, which prostrates every high 
thought, we have frequent examples in the servarts of God ; 
of whom the most eminent for holiness feel the greatest con- 
sternation on entering into the presence of the Lord Thus 
Daniel, whom the Lord himself has so highly comxnended, 
said, " We do not present our supplications before thee for our 
righteousness, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, he?r ; 
Lord, forgive ; O Lord, hearken and do ; defer not, for thine 
own sake, O my God ; for thy city and thy neople are called 
by thy name."(#) Nor does he, as i-^ generally the case, 
confound himself with the multitude, as one of the people ; 

(o) Isaiah i. 15. (q) Isaiah xxix 13 (s) I John iii. 22. 

(p) Jer. xi. 7, 8, 11 (r) James iv. 3 (t) Dan. ix 18, 19. 



CHAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 86 

but makes a separate confession of his own guilt, resorting as a 
suppliant to the asylum of pardon ; as he expressly declares, 
" Whilst I was confessing my sin, and the sin of my people." (w) 
We are taught the same humility also by the example of David : 
" En:er not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight 
shall no man living be justified." (v) In this manner Isaiah 
prays : " Behold, thou art wroth ; for we have sinned : in thy 
ways is continuance, and v/e shall be saved. For we are all 
as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy 
rags ; and we all do fade as a leaf ; and our iniquities, like the 
wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth 
upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of theo ; 
for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, 
because of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, thou art our 
Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are 
the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, nei- 
ther remember iniquity for ever ; behold, see, we beseech thee, 
we are all thy people." (w) Observe, they have no depend- 
ence but this ; that considering themselves as God's children, 
they despair not of his future care of them. Thus Jeremiah , 
" Though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy 
name's sake." (x) For that is equally consistent with the 
strictest truth and holiness, which was written by an uncertain 
author, but is ascribed to the prophet Baruch : "A soul sorrow- 
ful and desolate for the greatness of its sin, bowed down and 
infirm, a hungry soul and fainting eyes give glory to thee, O 
Lord. Not according to the righteousnesses of our fathers do we 
pour out our prayers in thy sight, and ask mercy before thy 
face, O Lord, our God ; but because thou art merciful, have 
mercy upon us, for we have sinned against thee." (y) 

IX. Finally, the commencement and even introduction to 
praying rightly is a supplication for pardon with an humble £Ui4 
ingenuous confession of guilt. For neither is iTiere any hope 
tTiat even the holiest of men can obtain any blessing of God till 
he be freely reconciled to him, nor is it possible for God to be 
propitious to any, but those whom he pardons. It is no wonder, 
then, if believers with this key open to themselves the gate 
of prayer ; as we learn from many places in the Psalms. For 
David, when requesting another thing, says, " Remember not 
the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions : according to thy 
mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness' sake, O Lord." 
Again : " Look upon mine affliction and my pain ; and forgive 
all my sins." {z) Where we likewise perceive, that it is not 
sufficient for us to call ourselves to a daily account for recent 
sins, unless we remember those which might seem to have 

(m) Dan. ix. 20. (w) Isaiah Ixiv. 5—9 (rj) Baruch ii. 18. 

(v) Psalm cxliii. 2. (x) Jer. xiv. 7 (z) Psalm xxv. 7, 18. 



86 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111. 

been long buiied in oblivion. For the same Psalmist, in another 
place, (a) having confessed one grievous crime, takes occasion 
thence to revert to his mother's womb, where he had con- 
tracted his original pollution ; not in order to extenuate his guilt 
by the corruption of his nature, but that, accumulating all the 
sins of his life, he may find God the more ready to listen to his 
prayers ia proportion to the severity of his self-condemnation. 
But though the saints do not always in express terms pray for 
remission of sins, yet if we diligently examine their prayers 
recited in the Scriptures, it will easily appear, as I assert, that 
they derived their encouragement to pray from the mere mercy 
of God, and so always began by deprecating his displeasure ; 
for if every man examine his own conscience, he is so far from 
presuming familiarly to communicate his cares to God, that he 
trembles at every approach to him, except in a reliance on his 
mercy and forgiveness. There is also, indeed, another special 
confession, when they wish for an alleviation of punishments, 
which is tacitly praying for the pardon of their sins ; because it 
were absurd to desire the removal of an effect, while the cause 
remains. For we must beware of imitating foolish patients, 
who are only solicitous for the cure of the symptoms, but 
neglect the radical cause of the disease. Besides, we should 
first seek for God to be propitious to us, previously to any 
external testimonies of his favour ; because it is his own will 
to observe this order, and it would be of little advantage to us 
to receive benefits from him, unless a discovery to the con- 
science of his being appeased towai'ds us rendered him alto- 
gether amiable in our view. Of this we are likewise apprized 
by the reply of Christ ; for when he had determined to heal a 
paralytic person, he said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee; "(6) 
thereby calling our attention to that which ought to be the 
chief object of desire, that God may receive us into his favour, 
and then, by affording us assistance, discover the effect of re- 
conciliation. But beside the special confession of present guilt, 
in which believers implore the pardon of every sin and the 
remission of every punishment, that general preface, which 
conciliates a favourable attention to our prayers, is never to be 
omitted ; because, unless they be founded on God's free mercy, 
they will all be unavailing. To this topic we may refer that 
passage of John — " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and 
just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unright- 
eousness." (c) Wherefore, under the law, prayers are required 
to be consecrated by an atonement of blood, to render them ac- 
ceptable, and to remind the people that they were unworthy of 
90 great and honourable a privilege, till, purified from their 

(a) Psalm li. 5 (i) Matt. ix. 2. (c) 1 John i. 9. 



CHAP, XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 87 

pollutions, they should derive confidence in prayer from the 
mere mercy of God. 

X. But when the saints sometimes appear to urge their own 
righteousness as an argument in their supplications with God, 
— as when David says, '' Preserve my soul ; for I am holy ; " (d) 
and Hezekiah, " I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I 
have walked before thee in truth, and have done that which is 
good in thy sight," (e) — their only design in such modes of ex- 
pression is, from their regeneration to prove themselves to be 
servants and sons of God, to whom he declares he will be pro- 
pitious. He tells us by the Psalmist, (as we have already seen, ) , 
that " his eyes are upon the righteous, and that his ears are 
open unto their cry;"(/) and again, by the apostle, that 
" whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his 
commandments ; " (g) in which passages he does not determine 
the value of prayer according to the merit of works ; but 
intends by them to establish the confidence of those who are 
conscious to themselves, as all believers ought to be, of 
unfeigned integrity and innocence. For the observation in 
John, made by the blind man who received his sight, that 
"God heareth not sinners," (h) is a principle of Divine truth, 
if we understand the word sinners, in the common acceptation 
of Scripture, to signify those who are all asleep and content in 
their sins, without any desire of righteousness ; since no heart 
can ever break out into a sincere invocation of God, unaccom- 
panied with aspirations after piety. To such promises, there- 
fore, correspond those declarations of the saints, in which they 
introduce the mention of their own purity or innocence, that 
they may experience a manifestation to themselves of what is 
to be expected by all the servants of God. Besides, they are 
generally found in the use of this species of prayer, when before 
the Lord they compare themselves with their enemies, from 
whose iniquity they desire him to deliver them. Now, in this 
comparison, we need not wonder, if they produce their right- 
eousness and simplicity of heart, in order to prevail upon him 
by the justice of their cause to yield the more ready assist- 
ance. We object not, therefore, to the pious heart of a good 
man making use before the Lord of the consciousness of his 
own purity for his confirmation in the promises which the liOrd 
ha^ given for the consolation and support of his true worship- 
pers ; but his confidence of success we wish to be independent 
of every consideration of personal merit, and to rest solely on 
the Divine clemency. 

XL The fourth and last rule is. That thus prostrate with 
crae humility, we should nevertheless be animated to pray by 

<d) Psalm Ixxxvi. 2. (e) 2 King? xx. 3. (/) Psalm xxxiv. 15 

(g) 1 John iii. 22. (A) John ix. 31. 



JJ8 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

the certain hope of obtaining our requests. It is indeed an 
apparent contradiction, to connect a certain confidence of God's 
favour with a sense of his righteous veng'eance ; though these 
two things are perfectly consistent, if persons oppressed by 
their own guilt be encouraged solely by the Divine goodness. 
For as we have before stated, that repentance and faith, of 
which one terrifies, and the other exhilarates, are inseparably 
connected, so their union is necessary in prayer. And this 
agreement is briefly expressed by David : "I will come (says 
he) into thy houte in the multitude of thy mercy ; and in thy 
fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." («) Under the 
" goodness of God," he comprehends faith, though not to the 
exclusion of fear ; for his majesty not only commands our 
reverence, but our own unworthiness makes us forget all 
pride and security, and fills us with fear. I do not mean a 
confidence which delivers the mind from all sense of anxiety, 
and soothes it into pleasant and perfect tranquillity ; for such a 
placid satisfaction belongs to those whose prosperity is equal 
to their wishes, who are affected by no care, corroded by no 
desire, and alarmed by no fear. And the saints have an ex- 
cellent stimulus to calling upon God, when their necessities and 
perplexities harass and disquiet them, and they are almost de- 
spairing in themselves, till faith opportunely relieves them ; be- 
cause, amidst such troubles, the goodness of God is so glorious 
in their view, that though they groan under the pressure of 
present calamities, and are likewise tormented with the fear of 
greater in future, yet a reliance on it alleviates the difficulty of 
bearing them, and encourages a hope of deliverance. The 
prayers of a pious man, therefore, must proceed from both these 
dispositions, and must also contain and discover them both ; 
though he must groan under present evils, and is anxiously 
afraid of new ones, yet at the same time he must resort for 
refuge to God, not doubting his readiness to extend the as 
sistance of his hand. For God is highly incensed by our 
distrust, if we supplicate him for blessings which we have no 
expectation of receiving. There is nothing, therefore, more 
suitable to the nature of prayers, than that they be conformed 
to this rule — not to rush forward with temerity, but to follow 
the steps of faith. To this principle Christ calls the attention 
of us all in the following passage : " I say unto you. What 
thmgs soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive 
them, and ye shall have them." (k) This he confirms also in 
another place : " Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, 
ye shall receive." (/) With which James agrees: "If any of 
you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men 

(i) Psalm V. 7 (k) Mark xi. 24. (/) Matt. xxi. 22. 



VUAP. XX. CHRISTIAN KELIGION. 89 

liberally, and upbraideth not. But let him £isk iu fattli, nathing 
wavering." (w) Where, by opposing "faith" to "wavering," 
he very aptly expresses its nature. And equally worthy of 
attention is what he adds, that they avail nothing, whc call 
upon God in perplexity and doubt, and are uncertain in their 
minds whether they shall be heard or not ; whom he even com- 
pares to waves, which are variously tossed and driven about with 
ihe wind. Whence he elsewhere calls a legitimate prayer " the 
prayer of faith." (?») Besides, when God so frequently affirms, 
that he will give to every man according to his faith, he implies 
that we can obtain nothing without faith. Finally, it is faith 
that obtains whatever is granted in answer to prayer. This is 
the meaning of that famous passage of Paul, to which injudi- 
cious men pay little attention : " How shall they call on him, in 
whom they have not believed ? And how shall they believe in 
himj of whom they have not heard ? So then faith cometh by 
hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (o) For by a re- 
gular deduction of prayer originally from faith, he evidently 
contends^ that God cannot be sincerely invoked by any, but 
those to whom his clemency and gentleness have been revealed 
and familiarly discovered by the preaching of the gospel. 

XII. This necessity our adversaries never consider. There- 
fore, when we inculcate on believers a certain confidence of 
mind that God is propitious and benevolent towards them, 
they consider us as advancing the greatest of all absurdities. 
But if they were in the habit of true prayer, they would cer- 
tainly understand, that there can be no proper invocation of 
God without such a strong sense of the Divine benevolence. 
But since no man can fully discover the power of faith without 
an experience of it in his heart, what advantage can arise 
from disputing with such men, who plainly prove that theyf 
never had any other than a vain imagination ? For the value] 
and necessity of that assurance which we require, is chiefly/ 
learned by prayer ; and he who does not perceive this, betrays 
great stupidity of conscience. Leaving, then, this class of blind- 
ed mortals, let us ever abide by the decision of Paul, that God 
cannot be called upon, but by those who receive from the gos- 
pel a knowledge of his mercy, and a certain persuasion that it 
is prepared for them. For what kind of an address would this 
be? "O Lord, I am truly in doubt, whether thou be willing *> 
to hear me ; but since I am oppressed with anxiety, I flee to \ 
thee, that if I be worthy thou mayest assist me." This does 
not resemble the solicitude of the saints, whose prayers we 
read in the Scriptures. Nor is it agreeable to the teaching of 
the Holy Spirit by the apostle, who commands us " to come 

(m) James i f , 6 (n) James v. 15 (o) Rom. x 14, 17. 

VOL. II. 12 



90 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find grace ; " (p) 
and informs us, that " we have boldness and access, with con- 
fidence, by the faith of Christ." (q) This assurance of obtaining 
Wtiat \ve implore, therefore, which is both commanded by the 
Lord himself, and taught by the example of the saints, it be- 
comes us to hold fast with all our might, if we would pray to 
any good purpose. For that prayer alone is accepted by God, 
which arises (if I may use the expression) from such a pre- 
sumption of faith, and is founded on an undaunted assurance 
of hope. He might, indeed, have contented himself with the 
simple mention of '' faith ; " yet he has not only added " con- 
fidence," but furnished that confidence with liberty or " bold- 
ness," to distinguish by this eriter'on between us and unbe- 
lievers, who do indeed pray to God in common with us, but 
entirely at an uncertainty. For which reason, the whole 
Church ])rays ni the psalm, " Let thy mercy, O Lord, be 
upon us, according as we hope in thee." (r) The Psalmist 
elsewhere introduces the same idea : " This I know ; for God 
is for me." (s) Again : " In the morning will I direct my 
prayer unto thee, and will look up." (t) For from these words 
we gather, that prayers are but empty sounds, if unattended 
by hope, from which, as from a watch-tower, we quietly look 
out for God. With which corresponds the order of Paul's ex- 
hortation ; for before exhorting believers to " pray always with 
all prayer and supplication in the Spirit," he first directs them 
to "take the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the 
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (w) Now, let 
the reader recollect, what I have before asserted, that faith is 
not at all weakened by being connected with an acknowledg- 
ment of our misery, poverty, and impurity. For believers feel 
themselves oppressed by a grievous load of sins, while destitute 
of every thing which could conciliate the favour of God, and 
burdened with much guilt, which might justly render him an 
object of their dread ; yet they cease not to present themselves 
before him ; nor does this experience terrify them from resort- 
ing to him, since there is no other way of access to him. For 
prayer was instituted, not that we might arrogantly exalt our- 
selves in the presence of God, or form a high opinion of any 
thing of our own ; but that we might confess our guilt to him, 
and deplore our miseries with the familiarity of children con- 
fiding their complaints to their parents. The immense accu- 
mulation of our distresses should operate as so many incite- 
ments to urge us to pray ; as we are taught likewise by the 
example of the Psalmist : " Heal my soul ; for I have sinned 



(p) Heb. iv. 16. (r) Psahn xxxiii. 22. (t) Psalm v. 3. 

Iq) Ephes. iii. 12. (s) Psalm Ivi. 9. (m) Ephes. vi. 16, 18. 



3HAP. XX. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 91 

against thee." {v) 1 confess, indeed, that the operation of such 
incentives would be fatal, were it not for the Divine aid ; but 
our most benevolent Father, in his incomparat Je mercy, has 
afforded a timely remedy, that allaying all perturbation, allevi- 
ating all cares, and dispelling all fears, he might gently allure 
us to himself, and facilitate our approach to him, by the removal 
of every obstacle and every doubt. 

Xlll. And m the first place, when he enjoins us to pray, 
the commandment itself implies a charge of impious contu- 
macy, if we disobey it. No command can be more precise 
than that in the psalm : "Call upon me in the day of trou- 
ble." (to) But as the Scripture recommends no one of the 
"duties of piety more frequently, it is unnecessary to dwell 
any longer upon it. " Ask, (says our Lord,) and it shall be 
given you ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (x) To 
this precept, however, there is also annexed a promise, which is 
very necessary; for though all men acknowledge obedience to 
be due to a precept, yet the greater part of them would neglect 
the calls of God, if he did not promise to be propitious to them, 
and even to advance to meet them. These two positions being 
proved, it is evident that all those who turn their backs on 
God, or do not directly approach him, are not only guilty of dis- 
obedience and rebellion, but also convicted of unbelief; because 
they distrust the promises ; which is the more worthy of ob- 
servation, since hypocrites, under the pretext of humility and 
modesty, treat the command of God with such haughty con- 
tempt as to give no credit to his kind invitation, and even 
defraud him of a principal part of his worship. For after 
having refused sacrifices, in which all holiness then appeared 
to consist, he declares the principal and most acceptable part 
of his service to be, "calling upon him in the day of trouble." 
Wherefore, when he requires what is due to him, and animates 
us to a cheerful obedience, there are no pretexts for diffidence or 
hesitation sufficiently specious to excuse us. The numerous 
texts of Scripture, therefore, which enjoin us to call upon God, 
are as so many banners placed before our eyes to inspire us with 
confidence. It were temerity to rush into the presence of God, 
without a previous invitation from him. He therefore opens a 
way for us by his own word : " I will say. It is my people ; 
and they shall say. The Lord is my God." (y) We see how 
he leads his worshippers, and desires them to follow him ; and 
therefore that there is no reason to fear lest the melody, which 
he dictates, should not be agreeable to him. Let us particu- 
larly remember this remarkable character of God, by a reliance 
on which we shall easily surmount every obstacle : ' O thou 

(») Psalm ili. 4 (w) Psalm 1. 15 (z) Matt. vii. 7 (j/) Zech. xiii .» 



92 INSTITUTES Ol THE [bOOK III 

that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come." (z) For 
what is more amiable or attractive than for God to bear thia 
character, which assures us, that nothing is more agreeable to 
his nature, than to grant the requests of humble suppliants ? 
Hence the Psalmist concludes that the way is open, not to a 
few only, but to all men ; because he addresses all in these 
words: "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will dehver 
thee, and thou shalt glorify me." (a) According to this rule, 
David, in order to obtain his request, pleads the promise that 
had been given him : " Thou, O Lord, hast revealed to thy 
servant — ; therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to 
pray." (6) Whence we conclude that he would have been 
fearful, had he not been encouraged by the promise. So in 
another place he furnishes himself with this general doctrine : 
" He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him." (c) In the 
Psalms we may likewise observe the connection of prayer as it 
were interrupted, and sudden transitions made, sometimes to 
.he power of God, sometimes to his goodness, and sometimes 
to the truth of his promises. It might appear as though David 
mutilated his prayers by an unseasonable introduction of such 
passages ; but believers know by experience, that the ardour 
of devotion languishes, unless it be supported by fresh supplies ; 
and therefore a meditation on the nature and the word of God 
is far from being useless in the midst of our prayers. Let us 
not hesitate, then, to follow the example of David in the intro- 
duction of topics calculated to reanimate languid souls with 
new vigour. 

XIV. And it is wonderful that we are no more affected 
with promises so exceedingly sweet ; that the generality of 
men, wandering through a labyrinth of errors, after having for- 
saken the fountain of living waters, prefer hewing out for them- 
selves cisterns incapable of containing any water, to embracing 
the free offers of Divine goodness. '' The name of the Lord 
(says Solomon) is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into 
it, and is safe." (d) And Joel, after having predicted the 
speedy approach of a dreadful destruction, adds this memorable 
sentence : " Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, 
shall be delivered ; " (e) which we know properly refers to 
the course of the gospel. Scarcely one man in a hundred is 
induced to advance tp meet the Lord. He proclaims by Isaiah, 
" Before they call, I will answer ; and while they are yet 
speaking^ I will hear." (/) And in another place he dignifies 
the whole Church in general with the same honour ; as it be- 
'ongs to all the members of Christ: "He shall call upon me 



(z) Psalm Ixv. 2. (a) Psalm 1. 15. (b) 2 Sam. vii. 27. (c) Psalm cxlv. It 

(d) Prov xviii. 10. (e) Joel ii. 32. (/) Isaiah Ixv. 24. 



CHAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 93 

and I will answer him : 1 will be with him in tronble : I will 
deliver him." (g) As T have before said, however, my design 
is not to enumerate all the texts, but to select the most remark- 
able, from which we may perceive the condescending kindness 
of God in inviting us to him, and the circumstances of ag- 
gravation attending our ingratitude, while our indolence still 
lingers in the midst of such powerful incitements. Wherefore 
let these words perpetually resound in our ears : " The Lord is 
nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him 
in truth ; " (h) as well as those which we have cited from Isaiah 
and Joel ; in which God affirms, that he is inclined to hear 
prayers, and is delighted, as with a sacrifice of a sweet savour, 
vrhen we cast our cares upon him. We derive this singular 
benefit from the Divine promises, when our prayers are con- 
ceived without doubt or trepidation ; but in reliance on his word, 
whose majesty would otherwise terrify us, we venture to call 
upon him as our Father, because he deigns to suggest to us 
this most delightful appellation. Favoured with such invita- 
tions, it remains for us to know that they furnish us with suffi- 
cient arguments to enforce our petitions ; since our prayers 
rest on no intrinsic merit ; but all their worthiness, as well as 
all our hope of obtaining our requests, is founded in, and de- 
pendent upon, the Divine promises ; so that there is no need of 
any other support or further anxiety. Therefore we may be 
fully assured, that though we equal not the sanctity so cele- 
brated in holy patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, yet, since the 
command to pray is common to us as well as to them, and we 
are partakers of the same common faith, if we rely on the Di- 
vine word, we are associated with them in this privilege. For 
God's declaration, (already noticed,) that he will be gentle and 
merciful to all, gives all, even the most miserable, a hope of 
obtaining the objects of their supplications ; and therefore we 
should remark the general forms of expression, by which no man, 
from the greatest to the least, is excluded ; only let him possess 
sincerity of heart, self-abhorrence, humility, and faith ; and 
let not our hypocrisy profane the name of God by a pretended 
invocation of him ; our most merciful Father will not reject 
those whom he exhorts to approach him, and even urges by 
every possible mode of solicitation. Hence the argument of 
David's prayer, just recited: "Thou, O Lord, hast revealed to 
thy servant — ; therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to 
pray this prayer unto thee. And now, O Lord God, thou art 
that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this 
goodness unto thy servant : " begin therefore and do it. (i) As 
also in another place : " Let thy kindness be according to thy 

(g) Paalm xci. 15. (/<) Psalm cxlv. 18. (i) 2 Sim. vii. 27, 28 



94 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111. 

word unto thy servant." {k) And all the Israelites together, 
whenever they fortify themselves with a recollection of the co- 
venant, sufficiently declare that fear ought to be banished from 
our devotions, because it is contrary to the Divine injunction ; 
and in this respect they imitated the examples of the patriarchs, 
particularly of Jacob, who, after having confessed himself " not 
worthy of the least of all the mercies " he had received from 
the hand of God, yet declares himself animated to pray for 
still greater blessings, because God had promised to grant 
them. {I) But whatever be the pretences of unbelievers, for 
not applying to God under the pressure of every necessity, for 
not seeking him or imploring his aid, they are equally charge- 
able with defrauding him of the honour due to him, as if they 
had fabricated for themselves new gods and idols ; for by this 
conduct, they deny him to be the Author of all their blessings. 
On the contrary, there is nothing more efficacious to deliver be- 
lievers from every scruple, than this consideration, that no im- 
pediment ought to prevent their acting according to the com- 
mand of God, who declares that nothing is more agreeable to 
him than obedience. These observations tend more fully to 
elucidate what I have advanced before ; that a spirit of bold- 
ness in prayer is perfectly consistent with fear, reverence, and 
solicitude ; and that there is no absurdity in God's exalting those 
who are abased. This establishes an excellent agreement be- 
tween those apparently repugnant forms of expression. Both 
Jeremiah and Daniel use this phrase : " Make prayers fall " be- 
fore God ; for so it is in the original, (m) Jeremiah also : " Let 
our supplication fall before thee." (n) Again: believers are 
frequently said to " lift up their prayer." (o) So says Hezekiah, 
when requesting the prophet to intercede for him. And David 
desires that his prayer may ascend "as incense." (jo) For 
though, under a persuasion of God's fatherly love, they cheer- 
fully commit themselves to his faithfulness, and hesitate not to 
implore the assistance he freely promises, yet they are not im- 
pudently elated with careless security, but ascend upwards by 
the steps of the promises, yet in such a manner, that they still 
continue to be suppliant and self-abased. 

XV. Here several questions are started. The Scripture re- 
lates that the Lord has complied with some prayers, which 
nevertheless did not arise from a calm or well-regulated heart. 
J[otham, for a just cause indeed, but from the impulse of rage, 
resentment, and revenge, devoted the inhabitants of Shechem to 
the destruction which afterwards fell upon them : (yjlTTe Lord, 
by fulfilling this curse, seems to approve of such disorderly 



<K) Psalm cxix. 76. (I) Gen. xxxii. 10, &c. (wi) Jer. xlii. 9. Dan. ix la 

<n) Jer. xli'. 2. (o) 2 Kings xix. 4. (p) Psalm cxli. 2. (?) Judges i.x. 2« 



HAP. XX.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. y^ 

Bailies of passion. SamSD" also was hurried away by similar 
fervour when he saiB^" Lord, strengthen me, that I may be 
avenged of the Philistines." (r) For though there was some 
mixture of honest zeal, yet it was a violent, and therefore sin- 
ful, avidity of revenge which predominated. God granted the 
request. Whence it seems deducible, that prayers not con- 
formable to the rules of the Divine word, are nevertheless effi- 
cacious. I reply, first, that a permanent rule is not annulled by 
particular examples; secondly, that j;eculiar emotions have 
sometimes been excited in a few individuals, causing a distinc- 
tion between them and men in general. For the answer of 
Christ to his disciples, who inconsiderately wished to emulate 
the example of Elias, " that they knew not what spirit they 
were of," is worthy of observation. But we must remark, 
further, that God is not always pleased with the prayers which 
he grants ; but that, as far as examples are concerned, there are 
undeniable evidences of the Scripture doctrine, that he suc- 
cours the miserable, and hears the groans of those who under 
the pressure of injustice implore his aid ; that he therefore 
executes his judgments, when the complaints of the poor arise 
to him, though they are unworthy of the least favourable atten- 
tion. For how often, by punishing the cruelty, rapine, vio- 
lence, lust, and other crimes of the impious, by restraining 
their audacity and fury, and even subverting their tyrannical 
power, has he manifestly assisted the victims of unrighteous 
oppression, though they have been beating the air with suppli- 
cations to an unknown God ! And one of the Psalmists clearly 
teaches that some prayers are not ineffectual, which neverthe- 
less do not penetrate into heaven by faith, (s) For he collects 
those prayers which necessity naturally extorts from unbeliev- 
ers as well as from believers, but to which the event shows 
God to be propitious. Does he by such condescension testify 
that they are acceptable to him ? No ; he designs to amplify 
or illustrate his mercy by this circumstance, that even the 
requests of unbelievers are not refused ; and likewise to stimu- 
late his true worshippers to greater dihgence in prayer, while 
they see that even the lamentations of the profane are not un- 
attended with advantage. Yet there is no reason why believers 
should deviate from the rule given them by God, or envy un- 
believers, as though they had made some great acquisition when 
they have obtained the object of their wishes. In this manner 
we have said that the Lord was moved by the hypocritical 
penitence of Ahab, in order to prove by this example how 
ready he is to grant the prayers of his own elect, when they 
seek reconciliation with him by true conversion. Therefore in 

(r) .Tudges xvi. 28. {a) Psalm cvu. 



96 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III, 

the Psalms he expostulates with the Jews, because, after having 
experienced his propitiousness to their prayers, they had almost 
immediately returned to their native perverseness. [t] It is 
evident, also, from the history of the Judges, that whenever 
they wept, though their tears were hypocritical, yet they were 
delivered from the hands of their enemies. As the Lord, there- 
fore, " maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good," (m] 
promiscuously, so he despises not the lamentations of those 
whose cause is just, and whose afflictions deserve relief. At 
the same time his attention to them is no more connected with 
salvation, than his furnishing food to the despisers of his good- 
ness. The question relative to Abraham and Samuel is attend- 
ed with more difficulty ; the former of whom prayed for the 
inhabitants of Sodom without any Divine direction, and the 
latter for Saul even contrary to a plain prohibition, [v] The 
same is the case of Jeremiah, who deprecated the destruction 
of the city, [w) For though they suffered a repulse, yet it 
seems harsh to deny them to have been under the influence of 
faith. But the modest reader will, I hope, be satisfied with 
this solution ; that mindful of the general principles by which 
God enjoins them to be merciful eve\i to the unworthy, they 
were not entirely destitute of faith, though in a particular in- 
stance their opinion may have disappointed them. Augustine 
has somewhere this judicious observation : " How do the saints 
pray in faith, when they implore of God that which is contrary 
to his decrees ? It is because they pray according to his will, not 
that hidden and immutable will, but that with which he inspires 
them, that he may hear them in a different way, as he wisely 
discriminates." This is an excellent remark ; because, accord- 
ing to his incomprehensible designs, he so regulates the events of 
things, that the prayers of the saints, which contain a mixture 
of faith and error, are not in vain. Yet this no more affords 
an example for imitation, than a sufficient plea to excuse the 
saints themselves, whom I admit to have transgressed the 
bounds of duty. Wherefore, when no certain promise can be 
found, we should present our supplications to God in a condi- 
tional way ; which is implied in this petition of David : 
" Awake to the judgment that thou hast commanded ; " (.?;) 
because he suggests that he was directed by a particular revela- 
tion to pray for a temporal blessing. 

XVI. It will also be of use to remark, that the things I have 
delivered concerning the four rules for praying aright, are not 
required by God with such extreme rigour as to cause the re- 
jection of all prayers, in which he does not find a perfection of 

{t) Psalm cvi. 39. (m) Matt. v. 45. {v) Gen. xviii. 23. 1 Sam. xv. 11 

{w) Jer xxxii. 16, «fec. (x) Psalm vii. 6. 



CHAP. XX. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 97 

faith or repentance, united with ardent zeal and well-rf gulatt J 
desires. We have said, that although prayer is a famihar 
intercourse between God and pious men, yet revere:ice and 
modesty must be preserved, that we may not give a loose to 
all our wishes, nor even in our desires exceed the Divine per- 
mission ; and to prevent the majesty of God being lessened in 
our view, our minds must be raised to a pure and holy venera- 
tion of him. This no man has ever performed with the purity 
required ; for, to say nothing of the multitude, how many com- 
plaints of David savour of intemperance of spirit ! not that he 
would designedly remonstrate with God, or murmur at his 
judgments ; but he faints in consequence of his infirmity, and 
finds no better consolation than to pour his sorrows into the 
Divine bosom. Moreover, God bears with our lisping, and 
pardons our ignorance, whenever any inconsiderate expressions 
escape us ; and certainly without this indulgence there could 
be no freedom of prayer. But though it was David's intention 
to submit himself wholly to the Divine will, and his patience 
in prayer was equal to his desire of obtaining his requests, yet 
we sometimes perceive the appearance and ebullition of turbu- 
lent passions, very inconsistent with the first rule we have laid 
down. We may discover, particularly from the conclusion of 
the thirty-ninth psalm, with what vehemence of grief this holy 
man was hurried away beyond all the bounds of propriety. 
" O spare me (says he) before I go hence, and be no more." (y) 
One might be ready to say, that the man, being in despair, 
desires nothing but the removal of God's hand, that he may 
putrefy in his own iniquities and miseries. He does not intend 
to rush into intemperance of language, or, as is usual with the 
reprobate, desire God to depart from him ; he only complains 
that he cannot bear the Divine wrath. In these temptations, 
also, the saints often drop petitions, not sufficiently conformable 
to the rule of God's word, and without due reflection on what 
is right and proper. All prayers polluted with these blemishes 
deserve to be rejected ; yet if the saints mourn, correct them- 
selves, and return to themselves again, God forgives them. Thus 
they offend likewise against the second rule ; because they fre- 
quently have to contend with their own indifference ; nor do 
their poverty and misery sufficiently incite them to seriousness 
of devotion. Now, their minds frequently wander, and are almost 
absorbed in vanity ; and they also need pardon in this respect, lest 
languid, or mutilated, or interrupted and desultory prayers should 
meet with a repulse. God has naturally impressed the minds 
of men with a conviction that prayers require to be attended 
with an elevation of heart. Hence the ceremony of elevating 

{y) Fsalm xxxix. 13 
VOL. 11. 13 



98 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III, 

the hands, as before observed, which has been common in all 
ages and nations, and still continues : but where is the person, 
who, while lifting np the hands, is not conscious of dulness 
because his heart cleaves to the earth ? As to praying for the 
remission of sins, though none of the faithful omit this article, 
yet they who have been truly engaged in prayers, perceive 
that they scarcely offer the tenth part of the sacrifices men- 
tioned by David : " The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ; 
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (z) 
Thus they have always to pray for a twofold forgiveness ; both 
because they are conscious of many transgressions, with which 
they are not so deeply affected as to be sufficiently displeased 
with themselves, and as they are enabled to advance in repent- 
ance and the fear of God, humbled with just sorrow for their 
offences, they deprecate the vengeance of the Judge. But 
above all, the weakness or imperfection of their faith would 
vitiate the prayers of believers, were it not for the Divine indul- 
gence ; but we need not wonder that this defect is forgiven by 
God, who frequently exercises his children with severe disci- 
pline, as if he fully designed to annihilate their faith. It is a 
very sharp temptation, when believers are constrained to cry, 
"How long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy peo- 
ple ? " (a) as though even their prayers were so many provoca- 
tions of Divine wrath. So when Jeremiah says, " God shutteth 
out my prayer," (&) he was undoubtedly agitated with severe 
trouble. Innumerable examples of this kind occur in the 
Scriptures, from which it appears that the faith of the saints is 
often mingled and agitated with doubts, so that amidst the 
exercises of faith and hope, they nevertheless betray some re- 
mains of unbelief; but since they cannot attain all that is to be 
wished, it becomes them to be increasingly diUgent, in order that, 
correcting their faults, they may daily make nearer approaches 
to the perfect rule of prayer, and at the same time to consider into 
what an abyss of evils they must have been plunged, who even 
in their very remedies contract new diseases ; since there is no 
prayer which God would not justly disdain, if he did not overlook 
the blemishes with which they are all deformed. I mention 
these things, not that believers may securely forgive themselves 
any thing sinful, but that, by severely correcting themselves, 
they may strive to surmount these obstacles ; and that, notwith- 
standing the endeavours of Satan to obstruct them in all their 
".vays, with a vie mi to prevent them from praying, they may 
nevertheless break through all opposition, certainly persuaded, 
that, though they experience many impediments, yet God is 
pleased with their efforts, and approves of their prayers, pro- 

(2) Psalm li 17. (a) Psalm Ixxi. 4 (6) Lam. iii. 8 



CHAJ-. XX.] CHKISTIAN RELIGION. 99 

vided they strenuously aim at that which they do not immedi- 
ately attain. 

XVII. But since there is no one of the human race worthy 
to present himself to God, and to enter into his presence, our 
heavenly Father himself, to deliver us at once from shame and 
fear, whith might justly depress all our minds, has given us 
his Son Jesus Christ our liOrd to be our Advocate and Mediator 
with him ; (c) introduced by whom we may boldly approach 
him, confident, with such an Intercessor, that nothing we ask 
in li.s name will be denied us, as nothing cau be denied to him 
by his Father. And to this must be referred all that we have 
hitherto advanced concerning faith ; because, as the promise 
recommends Christ to us as the Mediator, so, unless our hope 
of success depend on him, it deprives itself of all the benefit 
of pvayer. For as soon as we reflect on the terrible majesty of 
God, we cannot but be exceedingly afraid, and driven away 
from him by a consciousness of our unworthiness, till we dis- 
cover Christ as the Mediator, who changes the throne of dread- 
ful glory into a throne of grace; as the apostle also exhorts us 
to " come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain 
mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." {d) And as 
there is a rule given for calling upon God, as well as a promise 
that they shall be heard who call upon him, so we are par- 
ticularly enjoined to invoke him in the name of Christ ; and 
we have an express promise, that what we ask in his name we 
shall obtain. "Hitherto (says he) ye have asked nothing in 
my name : ask, and ye shall receive. At that day ye shall ask 
in my name ; and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that 
will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." [e] 
Hence it is plain beyond all controversy, that they who call 
upon God in any other name than that of Christ, are guilty of 
a contumacious neglect of his precepts, and a total disregard 
of his will ; and that they have no promise of any success. 
For, as Paul says of Christ, " All the promises of God in him 
are yea, and in him amen ; " that is, are confirmed and ful- 
filled. (/) 

XVIII. And we must carefully remark the circumstance of 
the time when Christ commands his disciples to apply to his 
intercession, which was to be after his ascension to heaven ; 
" At that day (says he) ye shall ask in my name." It is cer- 
tain that from the beginning no prayers had been heard but for 
the sake of the Mediator. For this reason the Lord had ap- 
pointed in the law, that the priest alone should enter the sanc- 
tiary, bearing on his shoulders the names of the tribes of Israel 



% 



1 Tira. ii. 5. 1 John ii. 1 (e) John xvi. 24, 26 ; xiv. 13 

Heb V. 16. (/) 2 Cor. i. 20. 



100 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 11 j 

and the same number of precious stones before his breast ; but 
that the people should stand without in the court, and there 
unite their prayers with those of the priest, (g) The use of 
the sacrifice was to render their prayers effectual. The mean- 
ing, therefore, of that shadowy ceremony of the law was, that 
we are all banished from the presence of God, and .here fore 
need a mediator to appear in our name, to bear us on his 
shoulders, and bind us to his breast, that we may be heard in 
his person ; and, moreover, that the sprinkling of his blood 
purifies our prayers, which have been asserted to be otherwise 
never free from defilement. And we see that the saints, when 
they wished to obtain any thing by prayer, founded their hope 
on the sacrifices ; because they knew them to be the confirma- 
tions of all their prayers. David says, " The Lord remember 
all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt-sacrifice." (h) Hence 
we conclude, that God has from the beginning been appeased 
by the intercession of Christ, so as to accept the devotions of 
believers. Why, then, does Christ assign a new period, when 
his disciples shall begin to pray in his name, but because this 
grace, being now become more illustrious, deserves to be more 
strongly recommended to us ? In this same sense he had just 
oefore said, " Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name ; 
ask." (i) Not that they were totally unacquainted with the 
office of the Mediator, (since all the Jews were instructed in 
these first principles,) but because they did not yet clearly 
understand that Christ, on his ascension to heaven, would be 
more evidently the advocate of the Church than he was before. 
Therefore, to console their sorrow for his absence with some 
signal advantage, he claims the character of an advocate, and 
teaches them that they have hitherto wanted the principal 
benefit, which it shall be given them to enjoy, when they 
shall call upon God with greater freedom in a reliance on his 
intercession ; as the apostle says that this new way is con- 
secrated by his blood, (k) So much the more inexcusable is 
our perverseness, unless we embrace with the greatest alacrity 
such an inestimable benefit, which is particularly destined 
for us. 

XIX. Moreover, since he is the only way of access by 
which we are permitted to approach God, to them who deviate 
from this road, and desert this entrance, there remains no othei 
way of access to God, nor any thing on his throne but wrath, 
judgment, and terror. Finally, since the Father has appoint- 
ed him to be our Head and Leader, they who in any respect 
decline or turn aside from him, endeavour, as far as they can, 
to deface and obliterate a character impressed by God. Thus 

(£■) Exod. xxviii (A) Psalm XX. 3. (i) John xvi 24. (/c) Heb. x. 20 



j;HAP. XX.j CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 101 

Christ is appointed as the one Mediator, by whose intercession 
the Father is rendered jn-opitious and favonrable to us. The 
saints have hicewise their intercessions, in which they mutually 
commend each other's interests to God, and which are men- 
f'oneu by the apostle ; (I) but these are so far from detracting 
any thing from the intercession of Christ, that they are entire- 
ly dependent on it. For as they arise from the affection of 
love, reciprocally felt by us towards each other as members of 
one body, so likewise they are referred to the unity of the 
Head. Being made also in the name of Christ, what are they 
but a declaration, that no man can be benefited by any prayers 
at all, independently of Christ's intercession ? And as the in- 
tercession of Christ is no objection to our mutually pleading 
for each other, in our prayers in the Church, so let it be con- 
sidered as a certain maxim, that all the intercessions of the 
whole Church should be directed to that principal one. We 
ought to beware of ingratitude particularly on this head, be- 
cause God, pardoning our un worthiness, not only permits us 
to pray each one for himself, but even admits us as intercessors 
for one another. For, when those who richly deserve to be 
rejected, if they should privately pray each for himself, are ap- 
pointed by God as advocates of his Church, what pride would 
it betray to abuse this liberality to obscure the honour of 
Christ ! 

XX. Now, the cavil of the sophists is quite frivolous, that 
Christ is the Mediator of redemption, but believers of interces- 
sion ; as if Christ, after performing a temporary mediation, had 
left to his servants that which is eternal and shall never die. 
They who detract so diminutive a portion of honour from him, 
treat him, doubtless, very favourably. But the Scripture, with 
the simplicity of which a pious man, forsaking these impostors, 
ought to be contented, speaks very differently ; for when John : 
says, " If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, | 
Jesus Christ," (tn) does he only mean that he has been here- I 
tofore an Advocate for us, or does he not rather ascribe to him 
ajerpetual intercession ? What is intended by the assertion 
'of Paul, that he ''is even at the right hand of God, and also 
maketh intercession for us?"(w) And when he elsewhere 
calls him the "one Mediator between God and man," does he 
not refer to prayers, which he has mentioned just before ? " (o) 
For having first asserted that intercessions should be made for 
all men, he immediately adds, in confirmation of that idea, 
that a_l have one God and one Mediator. Consistent with 
which is the explanation of Augustin*, "hen he thus expresses 

Q) Ephes. vi. 18, 19. 1 Tim. ii. 1 (n) Rora. viii. 34. 

(m) I John ii. 1. 'o) 1 Tim. ii. 5. 



102 INSTITUTES OF ^1 HE [bOOK 111. 

himself : " Christian men in their prayers mutually recommend 
each other to the Divine regard. That person, for whom no 
one intercedes, while he intercedes for all, is the true and only Me- 
diator. The apostle Paul, though a principal member under the 
Head, yet because he was a member of the body of Christ, and 
knew the great and true High Priest of the Church had entered, 
not typically, into the recesses within the veil, the holy of holies^ 
but truly and really into the interior recesses of heaven, into a 
san?,tuary not emblematical, but eternal, — Paul, I say, recom- 
mends himself to the prayers of believers. Neither does he 
make himself a mediator between God and the people, but ex- 
horts all the members of the body of Christ mutually to pray for 
one another; since the members have a mutual solicitude for 
each other ; and if one member suffers, the rest sympathize with 
it. And so should the mutual prayers of all the members, who 
are still engaged in the labours of the present state, ascend on 
each other's behalf to the Head, who is gone before them into 
heaven, and who is the propitiation for our sins. For if Paul 
were a mediator, the other apostles would likewise sustain the 
same character ; and so there would be many mediators ; and 
Paul's argument could not be supported, when he says, ' For 
there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the- 
man Christ Jesus ; in whom we also are one, if we keep the 
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.' " Again, in another 
place : " But if you seek a priest, he is above the heavens, where 
he now intercedes for you, who died for you on earth." Yet 
we do not dream that he intercedes for us in suppliant prostra- 
tion at the Father's feet ; but we apprehend, with the apostle, 
that he appears in the presence of God for us in such a manner, 
that the virtue of his death avails as a perpetual intercession 
for us ; yet so as that, being entered into the heavenly sanctuary, 
he continually, till the consummation of all things, presents to 
God the prayers of his people, who remain, as it were, at a dis- 
tance in the court. 

XXI. With respect to the saints who are dead in the flesh, 
but live in Christ, if we attribute any intercession to them, let 
us not imagine that they have any other way of praying to God 
than by Christ, who is the only way, or that their prayers ai-^ 
accepted by God in any other name. Therefore, since the Scrip- 
ture calls us away from all others to Christ alone, — since it :s 
the will of our heavenly Father to gather together all things in 
him, — it would be a proof of great stupidity, not to say insanity, 
to be so desirous of procuring an admission by the saints, as to 
Ye seduced from him, without whom they have no access them- 
selves. But that this has been practised in some ages, and is 
now practised wherever Popery prevails, who can deny ? Their 
merits are frequently obtruded to conciliate the Divine favour ; 



CHAP. XX. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 1()3 

and in general Christ is totally neglected, and God is ad Iressed 
through their names. Is not this transferring to them that 
office of exclusive intercession, which we have before asserted 
to be peculiar to Christ ? Again, who, either angel or demon, 
ever uttered to any of the human race a ^syllable concerning 
such an intercession as they pretend ? for the Scripture is 
perfectly silent respecting any such thing. What reason, then, 
was there for its invention ? Certainly, when the human mind 
thus seeks assistances for itself, in which it is not warranted 
by the word of God, it evidently betrays its want of faith. 
Now, if we appeal to the consciences of all the advocates for the 
intercession of saints, we shall find that the only cause of it is, 
an anxiety in their minds, as if Christ could fail of success, or 
be too severe in this business. By which perplexity they, in 
the first place, dishonour Christ, and rob him of the character 
of the only Mediator, which, as it has been given by the Father 
as his peculiar prerogative, ought therefore not to be trans- 
ferred to any other. And by this very conduct they obscuie 
the glory of his nativity, and frustrate the benefit of his cross ; 
in a word, they divest and defraud him of the praise which is 
due to him for all his actions and all his sufferings ; since the 
end of them all is, that he may really be, and be accounted, 
the sole Mediator. They at the same time reject the goodness 
of God, who exhibits himself as their Father ; for he is not a 
father to them, unless they acknowledge Christ as their brother 
Which they plainly deny, unless they believe themselves to be 
the objects of his fraternal afiection, than which nothing can be 
more mild or tender. Wherefore the Scripture offers him alone 
to us, sends us to him, and fixes us in him. " He," says Am 
brose, "is our mouth, with which we address the Father ; oui 
eye, by which we behold the Father ; our right hand, by which 
we present ourselves to the Father. Without whose mediation, 
neither we, nor any of all the saints, have the least intercourse 
with God." If they reply, that the public prayers in the 
churches are finished by this conclusion, " through Christ out 
Lord," it is a frivolous subterfuge ; because the intercession ot 
Christ is not less profaned when it is confounded with the 
prayers and merits of the dead, than if it were wholly omitted, 
and the dead alone mentioned. Besides, in all their litanies, 
both verse and prose, where every honour is ascribed to dead 
saints, there is no mention of Christ. 

XXII. But their folly rises to such a pitch, that we have 
here a striking view of the genius of superstition, \\ hich, when 
It has once shaken off the reins, places in general no limits to 
its excursions. For after men had begun to regard the inter- 
cession of saints, they by degrees gave to each his particular 
attributes, so that sometimes one, sometimes another, might be 



104 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IH 

invoked as intercessor, according to the difference of the cases , 
then they chose each his particular samt, to whose protection 
they committed themselves as to the care of tutelary gods. 
Thus they not only set up (as the prophet anciently accused 
Israel) gods according to the number of their cities, {k) but even 
according to the multitude of persons. But, since the saints 
refer all their desires solely to the will of God, and observe it, 
and acquiesce in it, he must entertain foolish and carnal, and 
even degrading thoughts of them, who ascribes to them any 
other prayer, than that in which they pray for the advent of the 
kingdom of God ; very remote from which is what they pretend 
concerning them — that every one of them is disposed by a 
private affection more particularly to regard his own worship- 
pers. At length multitudes fell even into horrid sacrilege, 
by invoking them, not as subordinate promoters, but as prin- 
cipal agents, in their salvation. See how low wretched mortals 
fall, when they wander from their lawful station, the word of 
God. I omit the grosser monstrosities of impiety, for which, 
though they render them detestable to God, angels, and men, 
they do not yet feel either shame or grief. Prostrate before the 
statue or picture of Barbara, Catharine, and others, they mutter 
Pater Noster, " Our Father." This madness the pastors are 
so far from endeavouring to remedy or to restrain, that, allured 
by the charms of lucre, they approve and applaud it. But 
though they attempt to remove from themselves the odium of 
so foul a crime, yet what plea will they urge in defence of 
this, that Eligius and Medardus are supplicated to look down 
from heaven on their servants, and to assist them ? and the 
holy Virgin to command her Son to grant their petitions ? It was 
anciently forbidden at the Council of Carthage, that at the altar 
any prayers should be made directly to the saints ; and it is 
probable that, when those holy men could not wholly subdue 
the force of depraved custom, they imposed this restraint, that 
the public prayers might not be deformed by this phrase, 
" Saint Peter, pray for us." But to how much greater lengths 
of diabolical absurdity have they proceeded, who hesitate not 
to transfer to dead men what exclusively belongs to God and 
Christ ! 

XXIII. But when they attempt to make this intercession 
appear to be founded on the authority of Scripture, they labour 
in vain. We frequently read, they say, of the prayers of 
angels ; and not only so, but the prayers of believers are said 
to be carried by their hands into the presence of God. But if 
they would compare saints deceased to angels, they ought to 
wove that they are the ministering spirits who are delegated 

(k) Jer. ii. 28; xi. 13 



rHAP. XX.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 105 

10 superintend the concerns of our salvation, whose province it 
IS to keep us in all our ways, who surround us, who ad- 
vise and comfort us, who watch over us; all of which offices 
are committed to angels, but not to departed saints, [l) How 
p;e,jOsterous y they include dead saints with angels, fully 
appears from so many different functions, by which the Scrip- 
tLue distinguishes some from others. No man will j resume, 
without previous permission, to act the part of an advocate 
before an earthly judge : whence, then, have worms so great a 
license to obtrude on God as intercessors those who are not 
recorded to have been appointed to that office ? God has 
been pleased to appoint the angels to attend to our salvation, 
wheiice they frequent the sacred assemblies, and the Church 
is to them a theatre, in which they admire the various and 
" manifold wisdom of God." (m) Those who transfer to 
others that which is peculiar to them, certainly confound and 
pervert the order established by God, which ought to be in- 
violable. With equal dexterity they proceed to cite other tes- 
timonies. God said to Jeremiah, " Though Moses and Samuel 
stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this peo- 
ple." (w) How, they say, could he thus have spoken concern- 
ing persons deceased, unless he knew that they were accus- 
tomed to intercede for the living ? But I, on the contrary, 
deduce this conclusion — That since it appears that neither 
Moses nor Samuel interceded for the Israelites, there was then 
no intercession of the dead. For who of the saints must we 
believe to be concerned for the salvation of the people, when 
this ceases to be the case with Moses, who far surpassed all 
others in this respect while alive ? But if they pursue such 
minute subtleties, that the dead intercede for the living, because 
the Lord has said, ''Though they interceded," I shall argue, 
with far greater plausibility, in this manner — In the people's ex- 
treme necessity, no intercession was made by Moses, of whom it 
is said, Though he interceded. Therefore it is highly probable, 
that no intercession is made by any other, since they are all so 
far from possessing the gentleness, kindness, and paternal solici- 
tude of Moses. This is indeed the consequence of their cavil- 
ling, that they are wounded with the same weapons with which 
they thought themselves admirably defended. But it is very 
ridiculous, that a plain sentence should be so distorted ; only 
because the Lord declares that he will not spare the crimes of 
the people, even though their cause had been pleaded by 
Moses or Samuel, to whose prayers he had shown himself so 
very propitious. This idea is very clearly deduced from a 
similar passage of Ezekiel — " Though these three men, Noah, 

(I) Heb. 1. 11. Psalm xci. 1 1 ; xxxiv. 7. (/w) Ephes. iii. 10. (k) Jer xv. 1. 

VOL. II, 14 



f06 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK II 

Danielj and Job, were in the land, they should delirer but thei: 
own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God ; " {oj 
where he undoubtedly meant to signify, if two of them should 
return to life again ; for the third was then alive, namely, 
Daniel, who is well known to have given an incomparable 
specimen of his piety, even in the flower of his youth. Let us 
then leave them, whom the Scripture clearly shows to have 
finished their course. Therefore Paul, when speaking of David, 
does not say that he assists posterity by his prayers, but only 
that "he served his own generation." (p) 

XXIV. They further object — Shall we then divest them of 
every benevolent wish, who through the whole course of their 
lives breathed only benevolence and mercy ? Truly, as I do not 
wish too curiously to inqun-e into their actions or thoughts, so 
it is by no means probable that they are agitated by the im- 
j)ulse of particular wishes, but rather that with fixed and per- 
manent desires they aspire after the kingdom of God ; which 
consists no less in the perdition of the impious, than in the 
salvation of believers. If this be true, their charity also is 
comprehended within the communion of the body of Christ, 
and extends no further than the nature of that communion per- 
mits. But though I grant that in this respect they pray for us, 
yet they do not therefore relinquish their own repose, to be 
distracted with earthly cares ; and much less are they there- 
fore to be the objects of our invocation. Neither is it a neces- 
sary consequence of this, that they must imitate the conduct 
of men on earth by mutually praying for one another. For 
this conduces to the cultivation of charity among them, while 
they divide, as it were, between them, and reciprocally bear 
their mutual necessities. And in this, indeed, they act accord- 
ing to God's precept, and are not destitute of his promise; 
which two are always the principal points in prayer. No such 
considerations have any relation to the dead ; whom when the 
Lord has removed from our society, he has left us no inter- 
course with them, nor them, indeed, as far as our conjectures 
can reach, any with us. (q) But if any one plead, that they 
cannot but retain the same charity towards us, as they are 
united with us by the same faith, yet who has revealed that 
they have ears long enough to reach our voices, and eyes so 
perspicacious as to watch over our necessities ? They talk in 
the schools of I know not what refulgence ot the Divine coun- 
tenance irradiating them, in which, as in a mirror, they behold 
from heaven the aflfairs of men. But to affirm this, especially 
with the presumption with which they dare to assert it, what 
is it but an attempt, by the inf; tuated dreams of our own 
htains, forcibly to penetrate into the secret appointment? ot 

(o) Ezek. -xiv. 14 {p) Acts xiii 36. (5) Eccles. ix 5, 6. 



CHAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 107 

God, without the authority of his word, and to trample the 
Scripture under our feet ? which so frequently pronounces our 
carnal wisdom to be hostile to the wisdom of God ; totally 
condemns the vanity of our mind ; and directs all our reason 
to be laid in the dust, and the Divine wi.l to be the sole object 
of our regard. 

XXV. The other testimonies of Scripture which they ad- 
duce in defence of this false doctrine, they distort with the 
greatest perverseness. But Jacob (they say) prays that his 
own name, and the name of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, 
might be named on his posterity, (r) Let us first inquire the 
form of this naming, or calling on their names, among the 
Israelites ; for they do not invoke their fathers to assist them ; 
but they beseech God to remember his servants Abraham, Isaac, 
and .Tacob. Their example, therefore, is no vindication of those 
who address the saints themselves. But as these stupid mor- 
tals understand neither what it is to name the name of Jacob, 
nor for what reason it should be named, we need not won- 
der that they so childishly err even in the form itself This 
phraseology more than once occurs in the Scriptures. For 
Isaiah says, that the name of the husband is "called upon " the 
wife who lives under his care and protection. The naming or 
calling, therefore, of the name of Abraham upon the Israelites, 
consists in their deducing their genealogy from him, and re- 
vering and celebrating his memory as their great progenitor. 
Neither is Jacob actuated by a solicitude for perpetuating the 
celebrity of his name, but by a knowledge that all the happi- 
ness of his posterity consisted in the inheritance of that cove- 
nant which God had made with him : and perceiving that this 
would be the greatest of all blessings to them, he prays that 
they may be numbered among his children ; which is only 
transmitting to them the succession of the covenant. They, 
on their part, when they introduce the mention of this in their 
prayers, do not recur to the intercessions of the dead, but put 
the Lord in remembrance of his covenant, in which their most 
merciful Father has engaged to be propitious and beneficent 
to them, for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. How 
little the saints depended in any other sense on the merits 
of their fathers, is evinced by the public voice of the Church 
in the prophet : " Thou art our Father, though Abraham be 
ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not : thou, O Lord, 
art our Father, our Redeemer." (s) And when they thus 
express themselves, they add at the same time, " O Lord, 
return, for thy servants' sake ; " yet not entertaining a thought 
of any intercession, but adverting to the blessing of the cove 

(r) Gen. xlviii. 16. (s) Isaiah Ixii'. IG 



108 



INSTITUTES OF THE 



nant. But now, since we have the Lord Jesus, in whose hand 
the eternal covenant of mercy is not only made but confirmed 
to us, — whose name sJiould we rather plead in our prayers ? 
And since these good doctors contend that the patriarchs are in 
these words represented as intercessors, I wish to be informed 
by them, why, in such a vast multitude, no place, not even the 
lowest among them, is allotted to Abraham, the father of 
the Church ? From what vile source they derive their advocates, 
is well known. Let them answer me by proving it right, that 
Abraham, whom God has preferred to all others, and elevated 
to the highest degree of honour, should be neglected and sup- 
pressed. The truth is, that since this practice was unknown in 
the ancient Church, they thought proper, in order to conceal 
its novelty, to be silent respecting the ancient fathers ; as 
though the difference of names were a valid excuse for a recent 
and corrupt custom. But the objection urged by some, that 
God is entreated to have mercy on the people for the sake of 
David, is so far from supporting their error, that it is a decisive 
refutation of it. For if we consider the character sustained by 
David, he is selected from the whole company of the saints, 
that God may fulfil the covenant which he made with him ; 
so that it refers to the covenant, rather than to the person, and 
contains a figurative declaration of the sole intercession of 
Christ. For it is certain that what was peculiar to David, 
as being a type of Christ, is inapplicable to any others. 

XXVL But it seems that some are influenced by the fre- 
quent declarations which we read, that the prayers of the 
saints are heard. Why ? Truly because they have prayed. 
'' They cried unto thee," says the Psalmist, " and were de- 
livered ; they trusted in thee, and were not confounded." (t) 
Therefore, let us likewise pray after their example, that we may 
obtain a similar audience. But these men preposterously argue, 
that none will be heard but such as have been once already 
heard. How much more properly does James say, " Elias 
was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed 
earnestly that it might not rain ; and it rained not on the earth 
by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed 
again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth 
her fruit." (u) What ! does he infer any peculiar privilege of 
Elias, to which we should have recourse ? Not at all ; but he 
shows the perpetual efficacy of pure and pious prayer, to ex- 
hort us to pray in a similar manner. For we put a mean con- 
struction on the promptitude and benignity of God in hearing 
them, unless we be encouraged by such instances to a firmer 
reliance on his promises ; in which he promises to hear, not 
one or two, or even a few, but all who call upon his name. 

(t) Psalm xxii. 5. (u) James v 17, 18 



CHAP. XK.j CHRISTIAN RKLIGION. 1 OJ* 

And this ignorance is so much the less excusable, because thejf 
appear almost professedly to disregard so many testimonies of 
Scripture. David experienced frequent deliverances by the 
Divine power ; was it that he might arrogate it to himself, in 
order to deliver us by his interposition ? He makes some very 
different declarations : " The righteous shall compass me about ; 
for thou shalt deal bountifully with me." (x) Again : " They 
looked unto him, and were lightened ; and their faces were not 
ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and 
saved him out of all his troubles." (y) The Psalms contain 
n.any such prayers, in which he implores God to grant his 
requests from this consideration, that the righteous may not be 
put to shame, but may be encouraged by his example to enter- 
tain a goc d hope. Let us be contented at present with one 
instance : " For this shall every one that is godly pray unto 
thee in a time when thou mayest be found ; " {z) a text which 
I have the more readily cited, because the hireling and cavil- 
ling advocates of Popery have not been ashamed to plead it to 
prove the intercession of the dead. As though David had any 
other design than to show the effect which would proceed from 
the Divine clemency and goodness when his prayers should be 
heard. And in general it must be maintained, that an ex- 
perience of the grace of God, both to ourselves and to others, 
affords no small assistance to confirm our faith in his promises. 
I do not recite numerous passages, where he proposes to him- 
self the past blessings of God as a ground of present and future 
confidence, since they will naturally occur to those who peruse 
the Psalms. Jacob by his example had long before taught the 
same lesson : " I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, 
and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant ; 
for with my staff I passed over this Jordan ; and now I am be- 
come two bands." (a) He mentions the promise indeed, but not 
alone ; he likewise adds the effect, that he may in future con- 
fide with the greater boldness in the continuance of the Divine 
goodness towards him. For God is not like mortals, who grow 
weary of their liberality, or whose wealth is exhausted ; but is 
to be estimated by his own nature, as is judiciously done by 
David, when he says, " Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God 
of truth." (6) After ascribing to him the praise of his salva- 
tion, he adds, that he is a God of truth ; because, unless he 
were perpetually and uniformly consistent with himself, there 
could not be derived from his benefits a sufficient argument for 
confiding in him, and praying to him. But when we know 
'.hat every act of assistance, which he affords us, is a specimen 

(i) Psalm cxlii. 7. (?/) Psalm xxxiv 5, G. (z) Psalm xxxii. 6. 

(a) Gen. xxxii 10. (b) Psalm xxxi. ^. 



110 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

and proof of his goodness and faithfulness, we shall have no 
reason to fear lest our hopes be confounded or our expectations 
disappointed. 

XXVII. Let us conclude this argument in the following 
manner: Since the Scripture represents the principal part of 
Divine worship to be an invocation of God, as he, in preference 
to all sacrifices, requires of us this duty of piety, no prayer can 
without evident sacrilege be directed to any other. Wherefore 
also the Psalmist says, " If we have stretched out our hands 
to a strange god, shall not God search this out? " (c) Besides, 
since God will only be invoked in faith, and expressly com- 
mands prayers to be conformed to the rule of his word ; finally, 
since faith founded on the word is the source of true prayer, — 
as soon as the least deviation is made from the word, there must 
necessarily be an immediate corruption of prayer. But it has 
been already shown, that if the whole Scripture be consulted, 
this honour is there claimed for God alone. With respect to 
the office of intercession, we have also seen, that it is peculiar 
to Christ, and that no prayer is acceptable to God, unless it be 
sanctified by this Mediator. And though believers mutually 
pray to God for their brethren, we have proved that this dero- 
gates nothing from the sole intercession of Christ ; because 
they all commend both themselves and others to God in a 
reliance upon it. Moreover we have argued, that this is inju- 
diciously applied to the dead, of whom we nowhere read that 
they are commanded to pray for us. The Scripture frequently 
exhorts us to the mutual performance of this duty for each 
other; but concerning the dead there is not even a syllable ; 
and James, by connecting these two things, " Confess your 
faults one to another, and pray one for another," tacitly ex- 
cludes the dead, (d) Wherefore, to condemn this error, this 
one reason is sufficient, that right prayer originates in faith, 
and that faith is produced by hearing the word of God, where 
there is no mention of this fictitious intercession ; for the teme- 
rity of superstition has chosen itself advocates, who were not 
of Divine appointment. For whilst the Scripture abounds 
with many forms of prayer, there is not to be found an exam- 
ple of this advocacy, without which the Papists believe there 
can be no prayer at all. Besides, it is evident that this super- 
stition has arisen from a want of faith, because they either 
were not content with Christ as their intercessor, or entirely 
denied him this glory. The latter of these is easily proved 
from their impudence ; for they adduce no argument more valid 
to show that we need the mediation of the saints, than when 
they object that we are unworthy of familiar access to God. 

(c) Psalm xliv. 20, 21 (d) James v. 16 



r.HAP. XX. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. IH 

Which indeed we acknowledge to be strictly true ; but we 
thence conclude, that they rob Christ of every thing, who con- 
sider his intercession as unavailing without the assistance ot 
George and Hippolytus, and other such phantasms. 

XXYIII. But though prayer is properly restricted to wishes 
and petitions, yet there is so great an affinity between petition 
and thanksgiving, that they may be justly comprehended 
under the same name. For the species which Paul enume- 
rates, fall under the first member of this division. In requests 
and petitions we pour out our desires before God, imploring 
those things which tend to the propagation of his glory and the 
illustration of his name, as well as those benefits which conduce 
to our advantage. In thanksgiving we celebrate his benefi- 
cence towards us with due praises, acknowledging all the bless- 
ings we have received as the gifts of his liberality. Therefore 
David has connected these two parts together : " Call upon me 
hi the day of trouble : I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify 
me," (e) The Scripture, not without reason, enjoins us the 
continual use of both ; for we have elsewhere said that our 
want is so great, and experience itself proclaims that we are 
molested and oppressed on every side with such numerous and 
great perplexities, that we all have sufficient cause for unceas- 
ing sighs, and groans, and ardent supplications to God. For 
though they enjoy a freedom from adversity, yet the guilt of 
their sins, and the innumerable assaults of temptation, ought to 
stimulate even the most eminent saints to pray for relief. But 
of the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving there can be no inter- 
ruption, without guilt ; since God ceases not to accumulate on 
us his various benefits, according to our respective cases, in order 
to constrain us, inactive and sluggish as we are, to the exercise 
of gratitude. Finally, we are almost overwhelmed with such 
great and copious effusions of his beneficence ; we are surrounded, 
whithersoever we turn our eyes, by such numerous and amazing 
miracles of his hand, that we never want matter of praise and 
thanksgiving. And to be a little more explicit on this pointy 
since all our hopes and all our help are in God, (which has 
already been sufficiently proved,) so that we cannot enjoy 
prosperity, either in our persons or in any of our affairs, without 
his benediction, — it becomes us assiduously to commend to him 
ourselves and all our concerns. Further, whatever we think, 
speak, or act, let all our thoughts, words, and actions be under 
his direction, subject to his will, and finally in hope of his as- 
sistance. For the curse of God is- denounced on all, who 
deliberate and decide on any enterprise in a reliance on them- 
selves or on any other, who engage in or attempt to begin any 

(e) Psalm 1. 15. 



112 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

undertaking independently of his will, and without invoking his 
aid. And since it has already been several times observed, that 
he is justly honoured when he is acknowledged to be the 
Author of all blessings, it thence follows that they should all 
be so received from his hand, as to be attended with unceasing 
thanksgiving ; and that there is no other proper method ol 
using the benefits which flow to us from his goodness, but b)« 
continual acknowledgments of his praise, and unceasing expres- 
sions of our gratitude. For Paul, when he declares that they Eire 
" sanctified by the word of God and prayer," at the same time 
implies, that they are not at all holy and pure to us without 
the word and prayer; (/) the word being metonymically used 
to denote faith. Wherefore David, after experiencing the good- 
ness of the Lord, beautifully declares, " He hath put a new 
song in my mouth ; " (g) in which he certainly implies that we 
are guilty of a criminal silence, if we omit to praise him for 
any benefit ; since, in every blessing he bestows on us, he gives 
us additional cause to bless his name. Thus also Isaiah, pro- 
claiming the unparalleled grace of God, exhorts believers to a 
new and uncommon song, (h) In which sense David elsewhere 
says, " O Lord, open thou my lips ; and my mouth shall show 
forth thy praise." (z) Hezekiah likewise, and Jonah, declare 
that the end of their deliverance shall be to sing the Divine 
goodness in the temple, (k) David prescribes the same general 
rule for all the saints. " What shall I render (says he) unto the 
Lord for all his benefits towards me ? I will take the cup of 
salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." (/) And this 
is followed by the Church in another psalm : '* Save us, O 
Lord our God, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to tri- 
umph in thy praise." (m) Again: "He will regard the prayer 
of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be 
written for the generation to come ; and the people which 
shall be created shall praise the Lord. To declare the name 
of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem." (w) More- 
over, whenever believers entreat the Lord to do any thing 
" for his name's sake," as they profess themselves unworthy 
to obtain any blessing on their own account, so they lay them- 
selves under an obligation to thanksgiving ; and promise that 
the Divine beneficence shall be productive of this proper effect 
on them, even to cause them to celebrate its fame. Thus 
Hosea, speaking of the future redemption of the Church, ad- 
dresses the Lord : " Take away all iniquity, and receive us 
graciously ; so will we render the calves of our lips." (o) Nor 
do the Divine blessings only claim the praises of the tongue, 



'/) 1 Tim. iv. 5. 


(i) Psalm li. 15. 


% 


(m) Psalm cvi. 47. 


(g) Psalm xl. 3. 


(k) Isaiah xxxviii. 20. 


Jonah ii. 9. 


(n) Psalm cii. 17, &c 


(h) Isaiah xlii. 10. 


(l) Psalm cxvi. 12, 13. 




(o) Hosea xiv. 2. 



GHAP. XS.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 113 

but naturally conciliate our love. " I love the Lord (says David) 
because he hath heard my voice and my supplications." {jp) In 
another place also, enumerating the assistances he had expe- 
rienced, " I will love thee, O Lord, my strength." [q) Nor 
will any praises ever please God, but such as flow from this 
ardour of love. We must likewise remember 'he position of 
Paul, that all petitions, to which thanksgiving is not annexed, 
are irregular and faulty. For thus he speaks : " In every thing 
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests 
be made known unto God." (r) For since moroseness, weari- 
ness, impatience, pungent sorrow and fear, impel many to 
mutter petitions, he enjoins such a regulation of the afiections, 
that believers may cheerfully bless God, even before they have 
obtained their requests. If this connection ought to exist 
in circumstances apparently adverse, God lays us under a still 
more sacred obligation to sing his praises, whenever he grants 
us the enjoyment of our wishes. But as we have asserted that 
our prayers, which had otherwise been defiled, are consecrated 
by the intercession of Christ, so the apostle, when he exhorts 
us " by Christ to offer the sacrifice of praise," (s) admonishes 
us that our lips are not sufficiently pure to celebrate the name 
of God, without the intervention of the priesthood of Christ. 
Whence we infer, how prodigious must be the fascination of 
the Papists, the majority of whom wonder that Christ is called 
an Advocate. This is the reason why Paul directs to " pray 
without ceasing," and "in every thing to give thanks;" (t) 
because he desires that all men, with all possible assiduity, at 
every time and in every place, and in all circumstances and 
affairs, may direct their prayers to God, expecting all from him, 
and ascribing to him the praise of all, since he affords us 
perpetual matter of prayer and praise. 

XXIX. But this dihgence in prayer, although it chiefly 
respects the particular and private devotions of each individual, 
has, notwithstanding, some reference also to the public prayers 
of the Church. But these cannot be unceasing, nor ought they 
to be conducted otherwise than according to the polity which is 
appointed by the common consent. This, indeed, I confess. 
For therefore also certain hours are fixed and prescribed, though 
indifierent with God, yet necessary to the customs of men, that 
the benefit of all may be regarded, and all the aff'airs of the 
Church be administered, according to th( direction of Paul, 
"decently and in order." (m) But this by no means prevents 
it from being the duty of every Church often to stimulate them- 
selves to a greater frequency of prayer, and also to be inflamed 

(p) Psalm cxvi. 1. (r) Phil. iv. 6. («) 1 Thess. v. 17, 18. 

(q) Psalm xviii 1 (s) Heb. xiii. 15. (m) 1 Cor. xiv. 40. 

VOL. II. 15 



114 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 11/ 

with more ardent devotion on the pressure of any necessity 
unusually great. But the place to speak of perseverance, which 
is nearly allied to unceasing diligence, will be towards the end. 
Moreover these things afford no encouragement to those vain 
repetitions which Christ has chosen to interdict us ; (x) for he 
does not forbid us to pray long or frequently, or with great 
fervour of affection ; but he forbids us to confide in our ability 
to extort any thing from God by stunning his ears with gar- 
rulous loquacity, as though he were to be influenced by the arts 
of human persuasion. For we know that hypocrites, who do 
not consider that they are concerned with God, are as pompous 
in their prayers as in a triumph. For that Pharisee, who 
thanked God that he was not like other men, (y) undoubtedly 
flattered himself in the eyes of men, as if he wished to gain by 
his prayer the reputation of sanctity. Hence that ^arroXoyja {vain 
repetition) which from a similar cause at present prevails among 
the Papists ; while some vainly consume the time by reite- 
rating the same oraisons, and others recommend themselves 
among the vulgar by a tedious accumulation of words. Since 
this garrulity is a puerile mocking of God, we need not wonder 
that it is prohibited in the Church, that nothing may be heard 
there but what is serious, and proceeds from the very heart. 
Very similar to this corrupt practice is another, which Christ 
condemns at the same time ; that hypocrites, for the sake of 
ostentation, seek after many witnesses of their devotions, and 
rather pray in the market-place, than that their prayers should 
want the applause of the world. But as it has been already 
observed that the end of prayer is to elevate our minds towards 
God, both in a confession of his praise and in a supplication of 
Ins aid, we may learn from this that its principal place is in the 
mind and heart ; or, rather, that prayer itself is the desire of tht 
inmost heart, which is poured out and laid before God tht 
searcher of hearts. Wherefore our heavenly Teacher, as has 
already been mentioned, when he intended to deliver the best 
rule respecting prayer, gave the following command : " Entei 
into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy 
Father which is in secret ; and thy Father which seeth in 
secret shall reward thee openly." (z) For when he has dis 
suaded from imitating the example of hypocrites, who endea- 
voured by the ambitious ostentation of their prayers to gain the 
favour of men, he immediately adds a better direction, which is. 
to enter into our closet, and there to pray with the door shut, 
[n which words, as I understand them, he has taught us to seek 
retirement, that we may be enabled to descend into our own 
h'^'irts, with all our powers of reflection, and promised us that 

(i) Matt. vi. 7 ((/) Luke xviii. 11. (i) Matt. vi. 6. 



UHAP. XX. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 1 15 

God, whose temples our bodies ought to be, will accede to the 
desires of our souls. For he did not intend to deny the expedi- 
ency of praying also in other places ; but shows that prayer is a 
kind of secret thing, which lies principally in the heart, and re- 
quires a tranquillity of mind undisturbed by all cares, It was 
not without reason, therefore, that the Lord himself, when he 
would engage in an unusual vehemence of devotion, retired to 
some solitary place, far from the tumult of men ; but with a view 
to admonish us by his own example, that we ought not to neglect 
these helps, by which our hearts, naturally too inconstant, are 
more intensely fixed on the devotional exercise. But notwith- 
standing, as he did not refrain from praying even in the midst 
of a multitude, if at any time the occasion required it, so we, 
ill al- places where it may be necessary, should "lift up holy 
liands." (a) And so it is to be concluded, that whoever 
refuses to pray in the solemn assembly of the saints, knows 
nothing of private prayer, either solitary or domestic. And 
again, that he who neglects solitary and private prayer, how 
sedulously soever he may frequent the public assemblies, only 
forms there such as are mere wind, because he pays more de- 
ference to the opinion of men than to the secret judgment of 
God. In the mean time, that the common prayers of the 
Church might not sink into contempt, God anciently distin- 
guished them by splendid titles, especially when he called the 
temple a "house of prayer." (6) For by this expression he 
taught both that the duty of prayer is a principal part of his 
worship, and that the temple had been erected as a standard for 
believers, in order that they might engage in it with one 
consent. There was also added a remarkable promise : " Praise 
waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion ; and unto thee shall the vow 
be performed ; " (c) in which words the Psalmist informs us 
that the prayers of the Church are never in vain, because the 
Lord supplies his people with perpetual matter of praise and 
joy. But though the legal shadows have ceased, yet since it 
has been the Divine will by this ceremony to maintain a unity 
of faith among us also, the same promise undoubtedly belongs 
to us, Christ having confirmed it with his own mouth, and 
Paul having represented it as perpetually valid. 

XXX. Now, as God in his word commands believers to 
unite in common prayers, so also it is necessary that public 
temples be appointed for performing them ; where they who 
refuse to join with the people of God in their devotions, have 
no just reason for abusing this pretext, that they enter into 
their closets, in obedience to the Divine mandate. For he who 
promises to grant \'-hatever shall be implored by two or thren 

r* 1 Tim. li. 8. (6) Isaiah Ivi. 7. (c) Psalm Ixv. 1 



116 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

persons convenea in his name, {d) proves that he is far from 
despising prayers offered in pubhc ; provided they be free from 
ostentation and a desire of human applause, and accompanied 
with a sincere and real affection dwelling in the secret recesses 
of the heart. If this be the legitimate use of temples, as it 
certainly is, there is need of great caution, lest we either con- 
sider them as the proper habitations of the Deity, where he 
may be nearer to us to hear our prayers, — an idea which has be- 
gun to be prevalent for several ages, — or ascribe to them I know 
not what mysterious sanctity, which might be supposed to ren- 
der our devotions more holy in the Divine view. For since 
we are ourselves the true temples of God, we must pray within 
ourselves, if we wish to invoke him in his holy temple. But 
let us, who are directed to worship the Lord " in spirit and in 
truth," (e) without any difference of place, relinquish those 
gross ideas of religion to the Jews or pagans. There was. 
indeed, anciently a temple dedicated, by Divine command, tc 
the oblatio© of prayers and sacrifices : at that time the truth was 
figuratively concealed under such shadows ; but now, having 
been plainly discovered to us, it no longer permits an exclusive 
attachment to any material temple. Nor, indeed, was the 
temple recommended to the Jews that they might enclose the 
Divine presence within its walls, but that they might be em- 
ployed in contemplating a representation of the true temple. 
Therefore Isaiah and Stephen have sharply reprehended those 
who suppose that God dwells in any respect '• in temples made 
with hands." (/) 

XXXI. Hence it is moreover clearly evident, that neither 
voice nor singing, if used in prayer, has any validity, or produces 
the least benefit with God, unless it proceed from the inmost 
desire of the heart. But they rather provoke his wrath against 
us, if they be only emitted from the lips and throat ; since that 
is an abuse of his sacred name, and a derision of his majesty ; 
as we conclude from the words of Isaiah, which, though their 
meaning be more extensive, contain also a reproof of this of- 
fence : " The Lord said. Forasmuch as this people draw near 
me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but 
have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward 
me is taught by the precept of men, — therefore, behold, I will 
pra:;eed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a 
marvellous work and a wonder ; for the wisdom of their wise 
men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men 
shall be hid." {g) Nor do we here condemn the use of the 
voice, or singing, but rather highly recommend theru, provided 

(^d) Matt, xviii. 20. (/) Isaiah Ixvi. 1. Acts vii. 46. 

(«) John iv. 23. {g) Isaiah xxix. 13, 14. Matt. xv. 8, 9. 



CHAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 117 

they accompany the affection of the heart. For they exercise 
the mind in Divine meditation, and fix the attention of the 
heart ; which by its lubricity and versatihty is easily relaxed 
and distracted to a variety of objects, unless it be supported by 
various helps. Besides, as the glory of God ought in some 
respect to be manifested in every part of our bodies, to this 
service, both in singing and in speaking, it becomes us espe- 
cially to addict and devote our tongues, which were created for 
the express purpose of declaring and celebrating the Divine 
praises. Nevertheless the principal use of the tongue is in the 
public prayers which are made in the congregations of be- 
lievers ; the design of which is, that with one common voice, 
and as it were with the same mouth, we may all at once pro- 
laim the glory of God, whom we worship in one spirit and 
with the same faith ; and this is publicly done, that all inter- 
changeably, each one of his brother, may receive the confes- 
sion of faith, and be invited and stimulated by his example. 

XXXII. Now, the custom of singing in churches (to speak 
of it by the way) not only appears to be very ancient, but that 
it was even used by the apostles, may be concluded from these 
words of Paul : " I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing 
with the understanding also." {h) Again, to the Colossians : 
" Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and 
hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts 
to the Lord." («') For in the former passage he inculcates 
singing with the voice and with the heart ; and in the latter he 
recommends spiritual songs, which may conduce to the mutual 
edification of the saints. Yet that it was not universal is 
proved by Augustine, who relates that in the time of Ambrose, 
the church at Milan first adopted the practice of singing, when, 
during the persecution of the orthodox faith by Justina, the 
mother of Valentinian, the people were unusually assiduous in 
their vigils ; and that the other Western churches followed. 
For he had just before mentioned that this custom had been 
derived from the churches of the East. He signifies also, in 
the second book of his Retractations, that in his time it was 
received in Africa. "One Hilary, (says he,) who held the 
tribunitial ofiice, took every opportunity of loading with ma- 
licious censures the custom which was then introduced at Car- 
thage, that hymns from the Book of Psalms should be sung at 
the altar, either before the oblation, or while that which had 
been offered was distributed to the people. In obedience to 
the commands of my brethren, I answered him." And cer- 
tainly if singing he attempered to that gravity which becomes 
the presence of God and ->f angels, it adds a dignity and grace 

(A) 1 Cor. XIV. 15 (t) Col. iii. 16. 



118 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

to sacred actions, and is very efficacious in exciting the mind 
to a true concern and ardour of devotion. Yet great caution is 
necessary, that the ears be not more attentive to the modulation 
of tiie notes, than the mind to the spiritual import of the words. 
With which danger Augustine confesses himself to h.ive been, 
so affected, as sometimes to have wished for the observance of 
the custom instituted by Athanasius, who directed that the 
reader should sound the words with such a gentle inflection of 
voice, as would be more nearly allied to rehearsing than to 
singing. But when he recollected the great benefit which 
himself had received from singing, he inclined to the other 
side. With the observance, therefore, of this limitation, it is 
without doubt an institution of great solemnity and usefulness. 
As, on the reverse, whatever music is composed only to please 
and delight the ear, is unbecoming the majesty of the Church, 
and cannot but be highly displeasing to God. 

XXXIII. Hence also it plainly appears, that public prayers 
are to be composed, not in Greek among the Latins, nor in 
Latin among the French or English, as has hitherto been uni- 
versally practised ; but in the vernacular tongue, which may 
be generally understood by the whole congregation ; for it 
ought to be conducted to the edification of the whole Church, 
to whom not the least benefit can result from sounds which 
they do not understand. But they who disregard the voice 
both of charity and of humanity, ought at least to discover 
some little respect for the authority of Paul, whose words are 
free from all ambiguity : " When thou shalt bless with the 
Spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned 
say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth 
not what thou sayest ? For thou verily givest thanks well, 
but the other is not edified." (k) Who, then, can sufficiently 
wonder at the unbridled license of the Papists, who, notwith- 
standing this apostolic caution against it, are not afraid to bel- 
low their verbose prayers in a foreign language, of which they 
neither sometimes understand a syllable themselves, nor wish 
a syllable to be understood by others ! But Paul directs to a 
different practice : " What is it then ? (says he) I will pray 
with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also : 1 
will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understand- 
ing also." (l) Signifying by the word spirit the peculiar gift 
of tongues, which was abused by some of its possessors, when 
they separated it from understanding. Thus it must be fully 
admitted, that both in public and in private prayer, the tongue, 
unaccompanied by the heart, cannot but be highly displeasing 
to God ; and likewise that the mind ought to be incited, in fV 

(k) 1 Cor. xiv. 16, 17 (l) 1 Cor. xiv. 15. 



CHAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 119 

ardour of meditation, to rise to a much higher iievation than 
can ever be attained by the expression of the tongue ; lastly, 
that the tongue is indeed not necessary to private prayer, any 
further than as the mind is insufficient to arouse itself, or as 
the vehemence of its emotions irresistibly carries the tongue 
along with them. For though some of the best prayers are 
not vocal, yet it is very common, under strong emotions, for the 
tongue to break forth into sounds, and the other members into 
gestures, without the least ostentation. Hence the uncertain 
muttering of Hannah, [tti) somewhat similar to which is expe- 
rienced by the saints in all ages, when they break forth into 
abrupt and imperfect sounds. The corporeal gestures usually 
observed in prayer, such as kneeling and uncovering the head, 
are customs designed to increase our reverence of God. 

XXXIV. Now, we must learn not only a certain rule, but 
also the form of praying: even that which our heavenly Father 
has given us by his beloved Son ; [n] in which we may recog- 
nize his infinite goodness and clemency. For beside advising 
and exhorting us to seek him in all our necessities, as chil- 
dren, whenever they are afflicted with any distress, are accus- 
tomed to have recourse to the protection of their parents ; seeing 
that we did not sufficiently perceive how great was our poverty, 
what it was right to implore, or what would be suitable to our 
condition, he has provided a remedy even for this our igno- 
rance, and abundantly supplied the deficiencies of our capacity 
For he has prescribed for us a form, in which he gives a state- 
ment of all that it is lawful to desire of him, all that is condu- 
cive to our benefit, and all that it is necessary to ask. From 
this kindness of his, we derive great consolation in the persuasion 
that we pray for nothing absurd, nothing injurious or unseason- 
able ; in a word, nothing but what is agreeable to him ; since our 
petitions are almost in his own words. Plato, observing the igno- 
rance of men in presenting their supplications to God, which if 
granted were frequently very detrimental to them, pronounces 
this to be the best method of praying, borrowed from an an- 
cient poet : '' King .lupiter, give us those things which are 
best, whether we pray for them or not ; but command evil 
things to remain at a distance from us, even though we implore 
them." And indeed the wisdom of that heathen is conspicu- 
ous in this instance, since he considers it as very dangerous to 
supplicate the Lord to gratify all the dictates of our appetites ; 
and at the same time discovers our infelicity, who cannot, 
without danger, even open our mouths in the presence of God, 
unless we be instructed by the Spirit in the right rule of 
prayer, (o) And this privilege deserves to be the more highly 

(m) 1 Sam. i. 13. (n) Matt. vi. 9. Luke xi. 2. (o) Roxn. viii. 26, 27 



120 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

valued by us, since the only begotten Son of God puts words 
into our mouths, which may deliver our minds from all hesi- 
tation. 

XXXV. This form or rule of prayer, whichever appellation 
be given to it, is composed of six petitions. For my reason for 
not agreeing with those who divide it into seven parts is, that 
the Evangelist appears, by the insertion of the adversative con- 
junction, to connect together these two clauses ; as though he 
had said. Suffer us not to be oppressed with temptation, but 
rather succour our weakness, and deliver us, that we may not 
fall. The ancient writers of the Church also are of our 
opinion ; so that what is now added in Matthew in the seventh 
place, must be explained as belonging to the sixth petition. 
Now, though the whole prayer is such, that in every part of it 
the principal regard must be paid to the glory of God, yet to 
this the first three petitions are particularly devoted, and to 
this alone we ought to attend in them, without any consider- 
ation of our own interest. The remaining three concern our- 
selves, and are expressly assigned to supplications for those 
things which tend to our benefit. As when we pray that 
God's name may be hallowed, since he chooses to prove 
whether our love and worship of him be voluntary, or dictated 
by mercenary motives, we must then think nothing of our 
own interest, but his glory must be proposed as the only object 
of our fixed attention ; nor is it lawful for us to be differently 
affected in the other petitions of this class. And this indeed 
conduces to our great benefit ; because, when the Divine name 
is hallowed or sanctified as we pray, it becomes likewise our 
sanctification. But our eyes should overlook, and be, as it we^-e, 
blind to such advantage, so as not to pay the least regard to it. 
And even if we were deprived of all hope of private benefit, yet 
this hallowing, and the other things which pertain to the glory 
of God, ought still to be the objects of our desires and of our 
prayers. This is conspicuous in the examples of Moses and 
Paul, (p) who felt a pleasure in averting their minds and eyes 
from themselves, and in praying with vehement and ardent zeal 
for their own destruction, that they might promote the king- 
dom and glory of God even at the expense of their own happi- 
ness. On the other hand, when we pray that our daily bread 
may be given us, although we wish for what is beneficial to 
ourselves, yet here also we ought principally to aim at the glory 
of God, so as not even to ask it, unless it tend to his glory. 
Now, let us attempt an explanation of the prayer itself. 

XXXVI. Our Father, who art in heaven, &c. The first 
'dea that occ irs is, what we have before asserted, that we ought 

(p) Exod. xxxii. 32. Rom ix. X 



CMAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 121 

never to present a prayer to God but in the name ot Christ 
since no other name can recommend it to his regard. For by 
calhng God our Father, we certainly plead the name of Christ. 
For with what conjfidence could any one call God his Father ? 
who could proceed to such a degree of temerity, as to arrogate 
to himself the dignity of a son of God, if we had not been 
adopted as the children of his grace in Christ ? who, being his 
true Son, has been given by him to us as our brother, that the 
character which properly belongs to him by nature, may be- 
come ours by the blessing of adoption, if we receive this in- 
estimable favour with a steady faith ; as John says, that to 
them is given " power to become the sons of God, even to 
Ihem that beheve on the name of the only begotten of the 
Father." [q) Therefore he denominates himself our Father, 
and wishes us to give him the same appellation ; delivering 
us from all diffidence by the great sweetness of this name, 
since the affection of love can nowhere be found in a stronger 
degree than in the heart of a father. Therefore he could not 
give us a more certain proof of his infinite love towards us, 
than by our being denominated the sons of God. But his love 
to us is as much greater and more excellent than all the love 
of our parents, as he is superior to all men in goodness and 
mercy ; (r) so that though all the fathers in the world, divested 
of every emotion of paternal affection, should leave their chil- 
dren destitute, he will never forsake us, because " he cannot 
deny himself." (s) For we have his promise, "If ye, then, 
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, 
how much more shall your Father which is in heaven ? " [t] 
Again, in the prophet : " Can a woman forget her child ? Yea, 
they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." {u) But if we are 
his sons, then, as a son cannot commit himself to the protec- 
tion of a stranger and an alien, without at the same time com- 
plaining of the cruelty or poverty of his father, so neither can 
we seek supplies for our wants from any other quarter than 
from him, without charging him with indigence and inability, 
or with cruelty and excessive austerity. 

XXXVII. Neither let us plead that we are justly terrified 
by a consciousness of our sins, which may cause even a merci- 
ful, kind Father to be daily offended with us. For i^, among 
men, a son can conduct his cause with his fathei by no better 
advocate, can conciliate and recover his lost favour by no bet- 
ter mediator, than by approaching him as an humble suppliant, 
acknowledging his own guilt, and imploring his father's mercy, 
(for the bowels of a father could not conceal their emotions at 

iti) John i. 12, 14. (r) 1 John iii. 1. Psalm xxvii. 10. Isaiah Ixiii. 16 

(a) 2 Tim. ii 13. {t) Matt. vii. 11. (m) Isaiah xlix. 15. 

▼OL, II. 16 



22 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111 

such supplications,) what will he do, who is " the Father of 
mercies, and the God of all comfort ? " (t) Will he not heai 
the cries and groans of his children when they deprecate hii 
displeasure for themselves, especially since it is to this that he 
invites and exhorts us ; rather than attend to any intercessions 
of others, to which they resort in great consternation, not with- 
out some degree of despair, arising from a doubt of the kind- 
ness and clemency of their Father ? Of this exuberance of 
paternal kindness, he gives us a beautiful representation in a 
parable ; (y) where a father meets and embraces a son who had 
alienated himself from his family, who had dissolutely lavished 
his substance, who had grievously offended him in every re- 
spect : nor does he wait till he actually supplicates for pardon, 
but anticipates him, recognizes him when returning at a great 
distance, voluntarily runs to meet him, consoles him, and re- 
ceives him into favour. For by proposing to our view an ex- 
ample of such great kindness in a man, he intended to teach us 
how much more abundant compassion we ought, notwithstand- 
ing our ingratitude, rebellion, and wickedness, to expect from 
him, who is not only our Father, but the most benevolent and 
merciful of all fathers, provided we only cast ourselves on his 
mercy. And to give us the more certain assurance that he is such 
a Father, if we be Christians, he will be called not only " Father,'' 
but expressly " Our Father ; " as though we might address him 
in the following manner : O Father, whose affection towards thy 
children is so strong, and whose readiness to pardon them is so 
great, we thy children invoke thee and pray to thee, under the 
assurance and full persuasion that thou hast no other than a 
paternal affection towards us, how unworthy soever we are of 
such a Father. But because the contracted capacities of our 
minds cannot conceive of a favour of such immense magnitude, 
we not only have Christ as the pledge and earnest of adoption, 
but as a witness of this adoption he gives us the Spirit, by 
whom we are enabled with a loud voice freely to cry, " Abba, 
Father." (z) Whenever, therefore, we may be embarrassed 
by any difficulty, let us remember to supplicate him, that he 
will correct our timidity, and give us this spirit of magnanimity 
to enable us to pray with boldness. 

XXXVIII. But since we are not instructed, that every indi- 
vidual should appropriate him to himself exclusively as his 
Father, but rather that we should all in common call him Our 
Father, we are thereby admonished how strong a fraternal 
affection ought to prevail among us, who, by the same pri- 
vilege of mercy and free grace, are equally the children of such 
a Father. For if we all have one common Father, (a) from 

(z) 2 Cor. i. 3 (y) Luke xv. 11, «fec (z) Gal. iv. 6. (a) Matt. xiii» 9 



CHAP. XX.] CHRISTIAN RELIGiniST. 123 

whom proceeds every blessing we enjoy, there ought to be 
nothing exclusively appropriated by any among us, but what 
we should be ready to communicate to each other with the 
greatest alacrity of heart, whenever necessity requires. Now, 
if we desire, as we ought, to exert ourselves for our mutud 
assistance, there is nothing in which we can better promote 
the interests of our brethren, than by commending them to the 
providential care of our most benevolent Father, with whose 
mercy and favour no other want can be experienced. And 
indeed, this is a debt Avhich we owe to our Father himself 
For as he who truly and cordially loves any father of a family, 
feels likewise a love and friendship for his Avhole household, 
in the same manner, our zeal and affection towards this hea- 
venly Father must be shown towards his people, his family, his 
inheritance, whom he has dignified with the honourable appel- 
lation of the " fulness " of his only begotten Son. (b) Let a 
Christian, then, regulate his prayers by this rule, that they be 
common, and comprehend all who are his brethren in Christ ; 
and not only those whom he at present sees and knows to be 
such, but all men in the world ; respecting whom, what God 
has determined is beyond our knowledge ; only that to wish 
and hope the best concerning them, is equally the dictate of 
piety and of humanity. It becomes us, however, to exercise a 
peculiar and superior aifection " unto them who are of the 
household of faith ; " whom the apostle has in every case re- 
commended to our particular regards, (c) In a word, all our 
prayers ought to be such, as to respect that community which 
our Lord has established in his kingdom and in his family. 

XXXIX. Yet this is no objection to the lawfulness of par- 
ticular prayers, both for ourselves and for other certain indi- 
viduals ; provided our minds be not withdrawn from a regard 
to this community, nor even diverted from it, but refer every 
thing to this point. For though the words of them be singular, 
yet as they are directed to this end, they cease not to be com- 
mon. All this may be rendered very intelligible by a simili- 
tude. God has given a general command to relieve the wants 
of all the poor ; and yet this is obeyed by them who to that 
end succour the indigence of those whom they either know or 
see to be labouring under poverty ; even though they pass by 
multitudes who are oppressed with necessities equally severe 
because neither their knowledge nor ability can extend to all. 
In the same manner, no opposition is made to the Divine will 
by them who, regarding and considering this common society 
of the Church, present such particular prayers, in which, with 
a public spirit, but in particular terms, they recommend to God 

(6) Ephes. i. 23. (c) Gal. vi. 10. 



I24l INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

themselves or others, whose necessity he has placed within 
their more immediate knowledge. However, there is not a 
perfect similarity in every respect between prayer and donation 
of alms, for munificence cannot be exercised but towards them 
whose wants we have perceived ; but we may assist by our 
prayers even the greatest strangers, and those with whom we 
are the most unacquainted, how distant soever they may be 
from us. This is done by that general form of prayer, which 
comprehends all the children of God, among whom they also 
are numbered. To this may be referred the exhortation which 
Paul gives believers of his age, " that men pray every where, 
lifting up holy hands without wrath ; " {d) because by admo- 
nishing them, that discord shuts the gate against prayers, he ad- 
vises them unanimously to unite all their petitions together. 

XL. It is added, That he is in heaven. From which it 
IS not hastily to be inferred, that he is included and circum- 
scribed within the circumference of heaven, as by certain bar- 
riers. For Solomon confesses, that " the heaven of heavi^ns 
cannot contain " him. (e) And he says himself, by the prophot, 
" The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool." (J ) 
By which he clearly signifies that he is not limited to any par- 
ticular region, but diff'used throughout all space. But because 
the dulness of our minds could not otherwise conceive of his 
inefiable glory, it is designated to us by the heaven, than which 
we can behold nothing more august or more majestic. Since, 
then, wherever our senses apprehend any thing, there they are 
accustomed to fix it, God is represented as beyond all place, 
that when we seek him we may be elevated above all reach of 
both body and soul. Moreover, by this form of expression, he is 
exalted above all possibility of corruption or mutation : finally, 
it is signified, that he comprehends and contains the whole 
world, and governs the universe by his power. Wherefore, 
this is the same as if he had been said to be possessed of an 
incomprehensible essence, infinite magnitude or sublimity, 
irresistible power, and unlimited immortality. But when we 
hear this, our thoughts must be raised to a higher elevation 
when God is mentioned ; that we may not entertain any ter- 
restrial or carnal imaginations concerning him, that we may 
not measure him by our diminutive proportions, or judge of 
his will by our aflections. We should likewise be encouraged 
to place the most implicit reliance on him, by whose providence 
and power we understand both heaven and earth to be governed. 
To conclude : under the name of " Our Father " is represented 
to us, that God who has appeared to us in his own image, that 

(d) 1 Tim. ii. 8. (/) Isaiah Ixvi. 1. Acts vii. 49; 

(e) t Kings viii 27 xvii. 24. 



::hap. XX.] christian kt.»-.oiOi\. 126 

we might call upon him with a steady faith ; and the familiar 
ap{)ellation of Father is not only adapted to produce confidence, 
but also efficacious to prevent our minds from being seduced 
to dubious or fictitious deities, and to cause them to ascend 
from the only begotten Son to the common Father of angels 
and of saints ; moreover, when his throne is placed in heaven, 
we are reminded by his government of the world, that it is not 
in vain for us to approach to him who makes us the objects of 
his present and voluntary care. " He that cometh to God 
(says the apostle) must believe that he is, and that he is a re- 
warder of them that diligently seek him." (g) Christ asserts 
both these of his Father, that we may have first a firm faith 
in his existence, and then a certain persuasion that, since he 
deigns to extend his providence to us, he will not neglect our 
salvation. By these principles, Paul prepares us for praying in 
right manner ; for his exhortation, "Let your requests be made 
known unto God," is thus prefaced : " The Lord is at hand. 
Be careful for nothing." (^) Whence it appears, that their 
prayers must be attended with great doubt and perplexity of 
mind, who are not well established in this truth, that " the eyes 
of the Lord are upon the righteous. " («) 

XLL The first petition is, That God's name may be hal- 
lowed ; the necessity of which is connected with our great 
disgrace. For what is more shameful, than that the Divine 
glory should be obscured partly by our ingratitude, partly by 
our malignity, and, as far as possible, obliterated by our pre- 
sumption, infatuation, and perverseness ? Notwithstanding all 
the sacrilegious rage and clamours of the impious, yet the 
refulgence of holiness still adorns the Divine name. Nor does 
the Psalmist without reason exclaim, " According to thy name, 
O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth." (k) For 
wherever God may be known, there must necessarily be a 
manifestation of his perfections of power, goodness, wisdom, 
righteousness, mercy, and truth, which command our admira- 
tion and excite us to celebrate his praise. Therefore, because 
God is so unjustly robbed of his holiness on earth, if it is not 
in our power to assert it for him, we are at least commanded to 
regard it in our prayers. The substance of it is, that we wish 
God to receive all the honour that he deserves, that men may 
never speak or think of him but with the highest reverence ; to 
which is opposed that profanation, which has always been too 
common in the world, as it continues to be in the present age. 
And hence the necessity of this petition, which, if we were 
mfluenced by only a tolerable degree of piety, ought to bf 



^: 



) Heb. xi. 6. («) Psnlm xxxiv. 1.') ; xxxiii 18. 

(h) Phil. iv. 5, 6. (k) Psalm xlviii. 10. 



126 INSTITUTES OF THE f»OOK III. 

superfluous. But if the name of God be truly hallowed, when 
separated from all others it breathes pure glory, we are here 
commanded to pray, not only that God will vindicate his holy 
name from all contempt and ignominy, but also that he will 
constrain all mankind to revere it. Now, as God manifests 
himself to us partly by his word, and partly by his works, he 
is no otherwise hallowed by us, than if we attribute to him in 
both instances that which belongs to him, and so receive what- 
ever proceeds from him ; ascribing, moreover, equal praise to 
his severity and to his clemency ; since on the multiplicity and 
variety of his works he has impressed characters of his glory, 
which should draw from every tongue a confession of his praise. 
Thus will the Scripture obtain a just authority with us, nor 
will any event obstruct the benedictions which God deserves 
in the whole course of his government of the world. The 
tendency of the petition is, further, that all impiety which sul- 
lies this holy name, may be utterly abolished ; that whatever 
obscures or diminishes this hallowing, whether detraction or 
derision, may disappear ; and that while God restrains all 
sacrilege, his majesty may shine with increasing splendour. 

XLII. The second petition is. That the kingdom of God 
MAY come ; which, though it contains nothing new, is yet not 
without reason distinguished from the first ; because, if we con- 
sider our inattention in the most important of all concerns, it is 
useful for that which ought of itself to have been most inti- 
mately known to us, to be inculcated in a variety of words. 
Therefore, after we have been commanded to pray to God to 
subdue, and at length utterly to destroy, every thing that sullies 
his holy name, there is now added another petition, similar and 
almost identically the same — That his kingdom may come. 
Now, though we have already given a definition of this king- 
dom, I now briefly repeat, that God reigns when men, renoun- 
cing themselves and despising the world and the present state, 
submit themselves to his righteousness, so as to aspire to the 
heavenly state. Thus this kingdom consists of two parts ; the 
one, God's correcting by the power of his Spirit all our carnal 
and depraved appetites, which oppose him in great numbers ; 
the other, his forming all our powers to an obedience to his 
commands. No others therefore observe a proper order in this 
petition, but they who begin from themselves, that is, that they 
may be purified from all corruptions which disturb the tran- 
i^uillity, or violate the purity, of God's kingdom. Now, since 
the Divine word resembles a royal sceptre, we are commanded 
to pray that he will subdue the hearts and minds of all men to 
A voluntary obedience to it. This is accomplished, when, by 
ihe secret inspiration of his Spirit, he displays the efficacy of 
his word, and causes it to obtain the honour it deserves. 



CHAP. XX.J CHRISTIAN KELIGION. 127 

Afterwards, it is our duty to descend to the impious, by whom 
his authority is resisted with the perseverance of obstinacy ai.d 
the fury of despair. God therefore erects his kingdom on the 
humiliation of the whole world, though his methods of humili- 
ation ai-e various ; for he restrains the passions of some, and 
breaks the unsubdued arrogance of others. It ought to be the 
object of our daily wishes, that God would collect churches for 
himself from all the countries of the earth, that he would en- 
large their numbers, enrich them with gifts, and establish a 
legitimate order among them ; that, on the contrary, he would 
overthrow all the enemies of the pure doctrine and religion, 
that he would confound their counsels, and defeat their at- 
tempts. Whence it appears that the desire of a daily progress 
is not enjoined us in vain ; because human affairs are never in 
such a happy situation, as that all defilement of sin is removed, 
and purity can be seen in full perfection. This perfection is 
deferred till the last advent of Christ, when, the apostle says, 
" God will be all in all." (/) And so this petition ought to 
withdraw us from all the corruptions of the world, which sepa- 
rate us from God, and prevent his kingdom from flourishing 
within us ; it ought likewise to inflame us with an ardent 
desire of mortifying the flesh, and finally to teach us to bear 
the cross ; since these are the means which God chooses for 
the extension of his kingdom. Nor should we be impatient 
that the outward man is destroyed, provided the inward man 
be renewed. For this is the order of the kingdom of God, 
that, when we submit to his righteousness, he makes us par- 
takers of his glory. This is accomplished, when, discovering 
his light and truth with perpetual accession of splendour, 
before which the shades and falsehoods of Satan and of his 
kingdom vanish and become extinct, he by the aids of his 
Spn-it directs his children into the path of rectitude, and 
strengthens them to perseverance ; but defeats the impious 
conspiracies of his enemies, confounds their insidious and fraud- 
ulent designs, disappoints their malice, and represses their ob- 
stinacy, till at length "he " will "consume " Antichrist " with 
the spirit of his mouth, and destroy" all impiety "with the 
brightness of his coming." {m) 

XLIII. The third petition is. That the will of God mat? 
BE DONE on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN ; which, though it is an 
appendage to his kingdom, and cannot be disjoined from it, is 
yet not without reason separately mentioned, on account of our 
ignorance, which does not apprehend with facility what it is 
for God to reign in the world. There will be nothing absurds 
then, in understanding this as an explanation, that God's king- 

(/) 1 Cor. XV. 28. (m) 2 Th^ea. ii. 8. 



128 INSTITUTES OF THE [: 



BOOK III 



dom will then prevail in the world, when all shall submit to 
his will. Now, we speak not here of his secret will, by which 
he governs all things, and appoints them to fulfil his own pur- 
poses. For though Satan and men oppose him with all the 
violence of rage, yet his incomprehensible wisdom is able, not 
only to divert their impetuosity, but to overrule it for the 
accomplishment of his decrees. But the Divine will here in- 
tended, is that to which voluntary obedience corresponds ; and 
therefore heaven is expressly compared with the earth, because 
the angels, as the Psalmist says, spontaneously " do his com- 
mandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." (n) We 
are therefore commanded to desire that, as in heaven nothing is 
done but according to the Divine will, and the angels are 
placidly conformed to every thing that is right, so the earth, 
all obstinacy and depravity being annihilated, may be subject 
to the same government. And in praying for this, we renounce 
our own carnal desires ; because, unless we resign all our affec- 
tions to God, we are guilty of all the opposition in our power 
to his will, for nothing proceeds from us but what is sinful. 
And we are likewise habituated by this petition to a renuncia- 
tion of ourselves, that God may rule us according to his own 
pleasure ; and not only so, but that he may also create in us 
new minds and new hearts, annihilating our own, that we may 
experience no emotion of desire within us, but a mere consent 
to his will ; in a word, that we may have no will of our 
own, but that our hearts may be governed by his Spirit, by 
whose internal teachings we may learn to love those things 
which please him, and to hate those which he disapproves ; 
consequently, that he may render abortive all those desires 
which are repugnant to his will. These are the three first 
clauses of this prayer, in praying which we ought solely to 
have in view the glory of God, omitting all consideration of 
ourselves, and not regarding any advantage of our own, which, 
though they largely contribute to it, should not be our end in 
these petitions. But though all these things, even if we never 
think of them, nor wish for them, nor request them, must 
nevertheless happen in their appointed time, yet they ought to 
be the objects of our wishes, and the subjects of our prayers. 
And such petitions it will be highly proper for us to offer, that 
we may testify and profess ourselves to be the servants and 
sons of God ; manifesting the sincerest devotedness, and mak- 
ing the most zealous efforts in our power for advancing the 
honour which is due to him, both as a Master and as a Father. 
Persons, therefore, who are not incited, by this ardent zeal for 
promoting the glory of God, to pray, that his name may be 

(n) Psalm ciii. 20 



CHAP. XX.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 129 

hallowed, that his kingdom may come, and that his will may 
be done, are not to be numbered among his sons ind servants ; 
and as all these things will be accomplished in opposition to 
their inclinations, so they will contribute to their confusion 
and destruction. 

XLIV. Next follows the second part of the prayer, in which 
we descend to our own interests ; not that we must dismiss all 
thoughts of the Divine glory, (which, according to Paul, (o) 
should be regarded even in eating and drinking,) and only seek 
what is advantageous to ourselves ; but we have already an- 
nounced that this is the distinction — that God, by exclu- 
sively claiming three petitions, absorbs us entirely in the con- 
sideration of himself, that thus he may prove our piety ; after- 
wards he permits us to attend to our own interests, yet on this 
condition, that the end of all our requests be the illustration of 
his glory, by whatever benefits he confers on us, since nothing 
is more reasonable than that we live and die to him. But the 
first petition of the second part. Give us this day our dailt? 
BREAD, is a general request to God for a supply of all our corpo- 
real wants in the present state, not only for food and clothing, 
but also for every thing which he sees to be conducive to 
our good, that we may eat our bread in peace. By this we 
briefly surrender ourselves to his care, and commit ourselves tc 
his providence, that he may feed, nourish, and preserve us 
For our most benevolent Father disdains not to receive even 
our body into his charge and protection, that he may exercise 
our faith in these minute circumstances, while we expect every 
thing from him, even down to a crumb of bread and a drop of 
water. For since it is a strange effect of our iniquity, to be 
afiected and distressed with greater solicitude for the body than 
for the soul, many, who venture to confide to God the interests of 
their souls, are nevertheless still solicitous concerning the body, 
still anxious what they shall eat and what they shall wear ; and 
unless they have an abundance of corn, wine, and oii, for the 
supply of their future wants, tremble with fear. Of so much 
greater importance to us is the shadow of this transitory life, 
than that eternal immortality. But they who, confiding in 
God, have once cast, off that anxiety for the concerns of the 
body, expect likewise to receive from him superior blessings, 
even salvation and eternal life. It is therefore no trivial exer- 
cise of faith, to expect from God those things which otherwise 
fill us with so much anxiety ; nor is it a small proficiency when 
we have divested ourselves of this infidelity, which is almost 
universally interwoven with the human constitution. The 
speculations of some, concerning supernatural bread, appear to 

(o) ICor. X. 31. 
VOL. II. 17 



130 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

me not very consonant to the meaning of Christ : for if we did 
not ascribe to God the character of our Supporter even in this 
transitory life, our prayer would be defective. The reason which 
they allege has too much profanity ; that it is unbecoming for 
the children of God, who ought to be spiritual, not only to 
devote their 3wn attention to terrestrial cares, but also to in- 
volve God in the same anxieties with themselves; as though, 
trulj'', his benediction and paternal favour were not conspicuous 
even in our sustenance ; or there were no meaning in the 
assertion, that "godliness hath promise of the life that now is, 
and of that which is to come." (p) Now, though remission of 
sins is of much greater value than corporeal aliments, yet 
Christ has given the first place to the inferior blessing, that he 
might gradually raise us to the two remaining petitions, which 
properly pertain to the heavenly life ; in which he has con- 
sulted our dulness. We are commanded to ask " our bread," 
that we may be content with the portion which our heavenly 
Father deigns to allot us, nor practise any illicit arts for the 
love of lucre. In the mean time, it must be understood that it 
becomes ours by a title of donation ; because neither our in- 
dustry, nor our labour, nor our hands, (as is observed by Mo- 
ses,) (g') acquire any thing for us of themselves, when unat- 
tended by the Divine blessing ; and that even an abundance 
of bread would not be of the least service to us, unless it were 
by the Divine power converted into nourishment. And there- 
fore this liberality of God is equally as necessary to the rich as 
to the poor; for though their barns and cellars were full, they 
would faint with hunger and thirst, unless through his good- 
ness they enjoyed their food. The expression " this day," 
or " day by day," as it is in the other Evangelist, and the 
epithet daily, restrain the inordinate desire of transitory things, 
with which we are often violently inflamed, and which leads 
to other evils ; since if we have a greater abundance, we fondly 
lavish it away in pleasure, delights, ostentation, and other kinds 
of luxury. Therefore we are enjoined to ask only as much as 
will supply our necessity, and as it were for the present day, 
with this confidence, that our heavenly Father, after having 
fed us to-day, will not fail us to-morrow. Whatever afiluence, 
then^ we possess, even when our barns and cellars are full, yet 
it behoves us always to ask for our daily bread ; because it 
must be considered as an undeniable truth, that all property is 
nothing, any further than the Lord, by the eff'usions of his 
favour, blesses it with continual improvement ; and that even 
what we have in our possession is not our own, any further than 
9s he hourly bestows on us some portion of it, and grants us the 

(p) 1 Tim. iv. 8. (?) Lev xxvi. 20 



CHAP. XX. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 131 

use of it. Since the pride of man does not easily suffer itself 
to be convinced of this, the liOrd declares that he has given to 
all ages an eminent proof of it, by feeding his people with 
manna in the desert, in order to apprize us " that man doth not 
live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of 
his mouth ; " (r) which implies, that it is his power alone by 
which our life and strength are sustained, although he commu- 
nicates it to us by corporeal means ; as he is accustomed to 
teach us likewise by an opposite example, when he breaks, at 
his pleasure, the strength (and, as he himself calls it, " th^ 
staff") of bread, so that though men eat they pine with hunger, 
and though they drink are parched with thirst, (s) Now, they 
who are not satisfied with daily bread, but whose avidity is 
insatiable, and whose desires are unbounded, and they who are 
satiated with their abundance, and think themselves secure 
amid their immense riches, and who nevertheless supplicate the 
Divine Being in this petition, are guilty of mocking him. For 
the former ask what they would not wish to obtain, and even 
what most of all they abominate, that is, daily bread only ; 
they conceal from God, as much as they can, their avaricious 
disposition ; whereas true prayer ought to pour out before him 
the whole mind, and all the inmost secrets of the soul ; and the 
latter implore what they are far from expecting to receive from 
him, what they think they have in their own possession. In 
its being called " ours," the Divine goodness is, as we have 
observed, the more conspicuous, since it makes that ours, to 
which we have no claim of right. Yet we must not reject the 
explanation which 1 have likewise hinted at, that it intends 
also such as is acquired by just and innocent labour, and not 
procured by acts of deception and rapine ; because, whatever 
we acquire by any criminal methods, is never our own, but 
belongs to others. Our praying that it may be " given " to us 
signifies that it is the simple and gratuitous donation of God, 
from what quarter soever we receive it ; even when it most of 
all appears to be obtained by our own skill and industry, and to 
be procured by our own hands ; since it is solely the effect of 
his blessing, that our labours are attended with success. 

XLV. It follows — Forgive us our debts; in which peti- 
tion, and the next, Christ has comprised whatever relates to 
the heavenly life ; as in these two parts consists the spiritual 
covenant which God has made for the salvation of his Church 
— "I wiU write my law in their hearts, and will pardon their 
iniquities ' (t) Here Christ begins with remission of sins ; im- 
mediately after, he subjoins a second favour — that God would 
defend u^ by the power, and support us by the aid, of his Spirit 

(r Deut. viii. 3. Matt. iv. 4. (s) Lev. xxvi. 26 

{t) Jer. xxxi. 33, 34 ; xxxiii. 8. 



132 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK lit 

to enable us to stand unconquered against all temptations. Sins 
he calls debts, because we owe the penalty of them — a debt we 
are altogether incapable of discharging, unless we are released 
by this remission, which is a pardon flowing from his gratui- 
tous mercy, when he freely cancels these dfbts without any 
payment from us, being satisfied by his own mercy in Christ, 
who has once given himself for our redemption. Those, there- 
fore, who rely on God's being satisfied with their own merits, or 
the merits of others, and persuade themselves that remission of 
sins is purchased by these satisfactions, have no interest in this 
gratuitous forgiveness ; and while they call upon God in this 
form, they are only subscribing their own accusation, and even 
sealing their condemnation with their own testimony. For 
they confess themselves debtors, unless they are discharged by 
the benefit of remission, which nevertheless they accept not, 
but rather refuse, while they obtrude upon God their own 
merits and satisfactions. For in this way they do not implore 
his mercy, but appeal to his judgment. They who amuse 
themselves with dreams of perfection, superseding the necessity 
of praying for pardon, may have disciples whom itching ears 
lead into delusions ; but it must be clear that all whom they 
gain are perverted from Christ, since he teaches all to confess 
their guilt, and receives none but sinners ; not that he would 
flatter and encourage sins, but because he knew that believers 
are never wholly free from the vices of their flesh, but always 
remain obnoxious to the judgment of God. It ought, indeed, 
to be the object of our desires and strenuous exertions, that, 
having fully discharged every part of our duty, we may truly 
congratulate ourselves before God on being pure from every 
stain ; but as it pleases God to restore his image within us by 
degrees, so that some contagion always remains in our flesh, 
the remedy ought never to be neglected. Now, if Christ, by 
the authority given him by the Father, enjoins us, as long as 
we live, to have recourse to prayer for the pardon of guilt, who 
will tolerate the new teachers, who endeavour to dazzle the 
eyes of the simple with a visionary phantom of perfect inno> 
cence, and fill them with a confidence in the possibility of 
their being delivered from all sin? which, according to John, 
is no other than making God a liar, {u) At the same time, also, 
these worthless men, by obliterating one article, mutilate, and 
so totally invalidate, the covenant of God, in which we have 
seen our salvation is contained ; being thus guilty not only of 
sacrilege by separating things so united, but also of impiety and 
cruelty, by overwhelming miserable souls with despair, and of 
treachery to themselves and others, by contracting a habit of 
carelessness, in diametrical opposition to the Divine mercy. 

(m) 1 John i. 10 



CHAP XX.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 133 

The objection of some, that in wishing the advent of God's king- 
dom, we desire at the same time the abolition of sin, is too 
puerile ; because, in the first part uf the prayer, we have an ex- 
hibition of the highest perfection, but here of infirmity. Thus 
these two things are perfectly consistent, that in aspiring to- 
wards the mark we may not neglect the remedies required by 
our necessity. Lastly, we pray that we may be forgiven as 
WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS ; that is, as we forgive and pardon 
all who have ever injured us, either by unjust actions or by 
contumelious language. Not that it is our province to forgive 
the guilt of sin and transgression ; this is the prerogative of 
God alone : our forgiveness consists in divesting the mind of 
anger, enmity, and desire of revenge, and losing the memory 
of injuries by a voluntary forgetfulness. Wherefore we must 
not pray to God for forgiveness of sins, unless we also forgive 
all the offences and injuries of others against us, either present 
or past. But if we retain any enmities in our minds, meditate 
acts of revenge, and seek opportunities of annoyance, and even 
if we do not endeavour to obtain reconciliation with our ene- 
mies, to oblige them by all kind offices, and to render them 
our friends, — we beseech God, by this petition, not to grant us 
remission of sins. For we supplicate him to grant to us what we 
grant to others. This is praying him not to grant it to us, unless 
we grant it also. What do persons of this description gain by 
their prayers but a heavier judgment ? Lastly, it must be 
observed, that this is not a condition, that he would forgive us 
as we forgive our debtors, because we can merit his forgive- 
ness of us by our forgiveness of others, as though it described 
the cause of his forgiveness ; but, by this expression, the Lord 
intended, partly to comfort the weakness of our faith ; for he 
has added this as a sign, that we may be as certainly assured 
of remission of sins being granted us by him, as we are certain 
and conscious of our granting it to others ; if, at the same time, 
our minds be freed and purified from all hatred, envy, and re- 
venge ; partly by this, as a criterion, he expunges from the 
number of his children, those who, hasty to revenge and 
difficult to forgive, maintain inveterate enmities, and cherish 
in their own hearts towards others, that indignation which 
they deprecate from themselves, that they may not presume to 
'nvoke him as their Father. Which is also clearly expressed 
jy Luke in Christ's own words. 

XLVL The sixth petition is, Lead us not into tempta- 
tion, BUT deliver us FROM EVIL, This, as we have said, corre- 
sponds to the promise respecting the law- of God to be engraven 
in our hearts. But because our obedience to God is not with- 
out continual warfare, and severe and arduous conflicts, we here 
pray fo arms, and assistance to enable us to gain the victory. 



134 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK Hi 

This suggests to us our necessity, not only of the grac(! of the 
Spirit within us to soften, bend, and direct our hearts to obe- 
dience to God, but also of his aid to render us invincible, in 
opposition to all the stratagems and violent assaults of Satan. 
Now, the forms of temptations are many and various. For the 
corrupt conceptions of the mind, provoking us to transgressions 
of the laAv, whether suggested by our own concupiscence or 
excited by the devil, are temptations ; and things not evil in 
themselves, nevertheless become temptations through the sub- 
tlety of the devil, when they are obtruded on our eyes in such 
1 manner that their intervention occasions our seduction or 
declension from God. And these temptations are either from 
prosperous, or from adverse events. From prosperous ones, as 
riches, power, honours ; which generally dazzle men's eyes by 
their glitter and external appearance of goodness, and insnare 
them with their blandishments, that, caught with such delusions 
and intoxicated with such delights, they forget their God. From 
unpropitious ones, as poverty, reproaches, contempt, afflictions, 
and other things of this kind ; overcome with the bitterness and 
difficulty of which, they fall into despondency, cast away faith 
and hope, and at length become altogether alienated from God. 
To both these kinds of temptations which assail us, whether 
kindled within us by our concupiscence, or presented to us by 
the craft of Satan, we pray our heavenly Father not to permit 
us to yield, but rather to sustain and raise us up with his hand, 
that, strong in his might, we may be able to stand firm against 
all the assaults of our malignant enemy, whatever imaginations 
he may inject into our minds ; and also, that whatever is pre- 
sented to us on either quarter, we may convert it to our benefit ; 
that is, by not being elated with prosperity or dejected with 
adversity. Yet we do not here pray for an entire exemption 
from all temptations, which we very much need, to excite, 
stimulate, and animate us, lest we should grow torpid with too 
much rest. For it was not without reason that David wished 
to be tempted or tried ; nor is it without cause that the Lord 
daily tries his elect, chastising them by ignominy, poverty, tribu- 
lation, and the cross in various forms. But the temptations of 
God are widely different from those of Satan. Satan tempts 
to overthrow, condemn, confound, and destroy. But God, that. 
by proving his people, he may make a trial of their sincerity. 
to confirm their strength by exercising it, to mortify, purify. 
and refine their flesh, which, without such restraints, would 
run into the greatest excesses. Besides, Satan attacks persons 
unarmed and unprepared, to overwhelm the unwary. " God, 
with the temptation, also makes a way to escape, that they 
may be able to bear " whatever he brings upon them, (y) By 

(y) 1 Cor. X. 13. 



CHAP. X.V.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 135 

the word evil, whether we understand the devil 3r sin, is of little 
importance. Satan himself, indeed, is the enemy that lies in 
wait for our life ; but sin is the weapon with which he seeks 
our destruction. Our petition therefore is, that we may not 
be overwhelmed and conquered by any temptations, but that 
we may stand, strong in the power of the Lord, against 
all adverse powers that assault us, which is not to submit 
to temptations ; that being taken into his custody and charge, 
and being secure in his protection, we may persevere uncon- 
quered, and rise superior to sin, death, the gates of hell, and 
the whole kingdom of the devil. This is being deliv^ered 
from evil. Here it must also be carefully remarked, that it is 
not in our power to contend with so powerful an enemy as the 
devil, and sustain the violence of his assaults. Otherwise it 
would be useless, or insulting, to supplicate from God what we 
already possessed in ourselves. Certainly, they who prepare 
tliemselves for such a combat with self-confidence, are not 
sufficiently aware of the skill and prowess of the enemy that 
they have to meet. Now, we pray to be delivered from his 
power, as from the mouth of a ravenous and raging lion, just 
about to tear us with his teeth and claws, and to swallow us 
down his throat, unless the Lord snatch us from the jaws of 
death ; knowing, at the same time, that if the Lord shall be 
present and fight for us while we are silent, in his strength 
" we shall do valiantly." (z) Let others confide as they please 
in the native abilities and powers of free-will, which they 
suppose themselves to possess, — let it be sufficient for us, to 
stand and be strong in the power of God alone. But this 
petition comprehends more than at first appears. For if the 
Spirit of God is our strength for fighting the battle with Satan, 
we shall not be able to gain the victory, till, being full of him, 
we shall have laid aside all the infirmity of our flesh. When 
we pray for deliverance from Satan and sin, therefore, we pray 
to be frequently enriched with new accessions of Divine grace ; 
till, being quite filled with them, we may be able to triumph 
over all evil. To some there appears a difficulty and harshness 
in our petition to God, that he will not lead us into temptation, 
whereas, according to James, it is contrary to his nature for 
him to tempt us. (a) But this objection has already been 
partly answered, because our own lust is properly the cause of 
all the temptations that overcome us, and therefore we are 
charged with the guilt. Nor does James intend any other than to 
assert the futility and injustice of transferring to God the vices 
which we are constrained to impute to ourselves, because we 
are conscious of our being guilty of them. But notwithsta/iding 

(2) Psalm Ix 12. (a) James i. 13, 14. 



136 INSTITUTES OF THE [eOOK Hi 

this, God may, when he sees fit, deliver us to Satan, abandon 
us to a reprobate mind and sordid passions, and so lead us into 
temptatidus, by a righteous yet often secret judgment; the 
cause being frequently concealed from man, but, at the same 
time, well known to him. Whence it is inferred, that there is 
no impropriety in this mode of expression, if we are persuaded 
that there is any meaning in his frequent threatenings, that he 
will manifest his vengeance on the reprobate, by smiting them 
with blindness and hardness of heart. 

XLVII. These three petitions, in which we particularly com- 
mend to God ourselves and all our concerns, evidently prove, 
what we have before asserted, that the prayers of Christians 
ought to be public, and to regard the public edification of 
the Church, and the advancement of the communion of be- 
lievers. For each individual does not supplicate the gift of 
any favour to himself in particular ; but we all in common 
pray for our bread, the remission of our sins, that we may not 
be led into temptation, that we may be delivered from evil. 
The cause is likewise subjoined, which gives us such great 
boldness in asking, and confidence of obtaining ; which, though 
not to be found in the Latin copies, yet appears too apposite to 
this place to be omitted — namely, His is the kingdom, and 
THE power, and THE GLORY FOR EVER. This is a solid and 
secure basis for our faith ; for if our prayers were to be recom- 
mended to God by our own merit, who could dare to utter a 
word in his presence ? Now, all miserable, unworthy, and 
destitute as we are of every recommendation, yet we shall 
never want an argument or plea for our prayers : our confi- 
dence can never forsake us ; for our Father can never be de- 
prived of his kingdom, power, and glory. The whole is con- 
cluded with Amen ; which expresses our ardent desire to obtain 
the blessings supplicated of God, and confirms our hope that 
all these things are already obtained, and will certainly be 
granted to us ; because they are promised by God, who is in- 
capable of deception. And this agrees with that form of peti- 
tion already quoted — "Do this, O Lord, for thy name's sake, 
not for our sake, or for our righteousness ; " in which the saints 
not only express the end of their prayers, but acknowledge that 
they are unworthy to obtain it, unless God derive the cause 
from himself, and that their confidence of success arises solely 
from his nature. 

XLVin. Whatever we ought, or are even at liberty, to 
seek from God, is stated to us in this model and directory for 
prayer, given by that best of masters, Christ, whom the Father 
has set over us as our Teacher, and to whom alone he has en- 
joined us to listen. (6) For he was always his eternal wisdom, 

(b) Matt. xvii. 5. 



JHAP. \X. CHRISTIAN RI^LIGION. 137 

and being made man, was given to men as the Angel of great 
counsel, (c) And this prayer is so comprehensive and com- 
plete, that whatever addition is made of any thing extraneous 
or foreign, not capable of being referred to it, is impious and 
unworthy of the approbation of God. For in this summary he 
has prescribed what is worthy of him, what is acceptable to 
him, what is necessary for us, and, in a word, what he chooses 
to bestow. Wherefore those who presume to go beyond it, 
and to ask of God any thing else, in the first place, are deter- 
mined to make some addition of their own to the wisdom of 
God, which cannot be done without folly and blasphemy ; in 
the next place, despising the limits fixed by the will of God, 
they are led far astray by their own irregular desires ; and in 
the last place, they will never obtain any thing, since they 
pray without faith. And there is no doubt that all prayers of 
this kind are made without faith, because they are not sanc- 
tioned by the word of God, the only basis on which faith can 
stand. But they who neglect the Master's rule, and indulge 
their own desires, not only deviate from the word of God, but 
make all possible opposition against it. With equal beauty and 
truth, therefore, Tertulliau has called this a legitimate prayer, 
tacitly implying, that all others are irregular and unlawful. 

XLIX. We would not here be understood, as if we were 
confined to this form of prayer, without the liberty of changing 
a word or syllable. For the Scriptures contain many prayers, 
expressed in words very different from this, yet written by the 
same Spirit, and very profitable for our use. Many, which 
have little verbal resemblance to it, are continually suggested 
to believers by the same Spirit. We only mean by these ob- 
servations, that no one should even seek, expect, or ask for any 
thing that is not summarily comprehended in this prayer, 
though there may be a diversity of expression, without any 
variation of sense. As it is certain that all the prayers con- 
tained in the Scriptures, or proceeding from pious hearts, are 
referred to this, so it is impossible to find one any where which 
can surpass or even equal the perfection of this. Here is 
nothing omitted which ought to be recollected for the praises 
of God, nothing that should occur to the mind of man for his own 
advantage ; and the whole is so complete, as jUstly to inspire 
universal despair of attempting any improvement. To con- 
clude ; let US remember, that this is the teaching of Divine 
wisdom, which taught what it willed, and willed what is 
needful. 

L. But though we have before said that we ought to be 
always aspiring towards God with our minds, and praying 

(c) Isaiah xi. 2. 
TOL. II. 18 



138 INSTITUTES OF THE [: 



BOOK III 



without intermission, yet as our weakniiss lequires many as- 
sistances, and our indolence needs to be stimulated, we ought 
every one of us, for the sake of regularity, to appoint particular 
hours which should not elapse without prayer, and which 
should witness all the affections of the mind entirely engaged 
in this exercise ; as, when we rise in the morning, before we 
enter on the business of the day, when we sit down to meat, 
when we have been fed by the Divine blessing, when we re- 
tire to rest. This must not be a superstitious observance of 
hours, by which, as if discharging our debt to God, we may 
fancy ourselves discharged from all obligation for the remain- 
ing hours ; but a discipline for our weakness, which may thus, 
from time to time, be exercised and stimulated. It must es- 
pecially be the object of our solicitous care, whenever we are 
oppressed, or see others oppressed, with adversity, immediately 
to resort to him with celerity, not of body, but of mind ; second- 
ly, to suffer no prosperity of our own or others to pass with- 
out testifying our acknowledgment of his hand by praise and 
thanksgiving ; lastly, we must carefully observe this in every 
prayer, that we entertain not the thought of binding God to cer- 
tain circumstances, or prescribing to him the time, the place, or 
the manner of his proceedings. As we are taught by this prayer 
to fix no law, to impose no condition on him, but to leave it to 
his will to do what he intends, in the manner, at the time, 
and in the place he pleases, therefore, before we form a peti- 
tion for ourselves, we first pray that his will may be done ; 
thereby submitting our will to his, that, being, as it were, bridled 
and restrained, it may not presume to regulate God, but may 
constitute him the arbiter and ruler of all its desires. 

LI. If, with minds composed to this obedience, we suffer 
ourselves to be governed by the laws of Divine Providence, we 
shall easily learn to persevere in prayer, and with suspended 
desires to wait patiently for the Lord ; assured, though he does 
not discover himself, yet that he is always near us, and in his 
own time will declare that his ears have not been deaf to those 
prayers which, to human apprehension, seemed to be neglected. 
Now, this, if God do not at any time answer our first prayers, 
will be an immediate consolation, to prevent our sinking into 
despair, like those who, actuated only by their own ardour, call 
upon God in such a manner, that if he do not attend to their 
first transports, and afford them present aid, they at once 
imagine him to be displeased and angry with them, and, casting 
away all hope of succeeding in their prayers, cease to call upon 
him. But deferring our hope with a well-tempered equanimity, 
let UK rather practise the perseverance so highly recommended 
to us in the Scriptures. For in the Psalms we may frequently 
observe how David and other faithful men, when, almcet 



CHAP. XX J UHRISTIAN RELIGION. 139 

wearied with praying, they seemed to beat the air, and God 
seemed deaf to their petitions, yet did not desist from praying ; 
because the authority of the Divine word is not maintained, 
unless it be fully credited, notwithstanding the appearance of 
any circumstances to the contrary. Nor let us tempt God, and 
provoke him against us by wearying him with our presump- 
tion ; which is the practice of many who merely bargain with 
God on a certain condition, and as though he were subservient 
to their passions, bind him with laws of their own stipulation ; 
with which unless he immediately complies, they give way to 
anger and fretfulness, to cavils, and murmurs, and rage. To 
such persons, therefore, he frequently grants in his wrath what 
he denies in mercy to others. This is exemplified in the 
children of Israel, for whom it had been better for the Lord not 
to have heard them, than for them to swallow his indignation 
Avith the meat that he sent them, {d) 

LII. But if, after long waiting, our sense neither understands 
what advance we have made by praying, nor experiences any 
advantage resulting from it, yet our faith will assure us, what 
cannot be perceived by sense, that we have obtained what was 
expedient for us, since the Lord so frequently and so certainly 
promises to take care of our troubles when they have been once 
deposited in his bosom. And thus he will cause us to pos- 
sess abundance in poverty, and consolation in affliction. For 
though all things fail us, yet God will never forsake us ; he 
cannot disappoint the expectation and patience of his people. 
He will amply compensate us for the loss of all others, for he 
comprehends in himself all blessings, which he will reveal to us 
at the day of judgment, when his kingdom will be fully mani- 
fested. Besides, though God grants our prayers, he does not 
always answer them according to the express form of the 
request ; but seeming to keep us in suspense, shows by un- 
known means that our prayers were not in vain. This is the 
meaning of these words of John : " If we know that he heareth 
us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions 
that we desired of him." (e) This seems to be a feeble super- 
fluity of expression, but is in reality a very useful declaration, 
that God, even when he does not comply with our desires, is 
nevertheless favourable and propitious to our prayers, so that a 
hope depending upon his word can never disappoint us. Now, 
this patience is very necessary to support believers, who would 
not long stand unless they relied upon it. For the Lord 
proves his people with heavy trials, and exercises them with 
severity ; frequently driving them to various kinds of extremi- 
ties, and suffering them to remain in them a long time before he 

(d) Num. XI 18, 33. (e) 1 John v. 15. 



140 INSTITUTES OF THE [boOK III. 

grants them any enjoyment of his grace ; and as Hannah says, 
" The Lord killeth, and maketh alive ; he bringeth down to 
the grave, and bringeth up." [f] In such distresses must they 
not inevitably faint in their minds, and fall into despair, unless, 
in the midst of their affliction and desolation, and almost death, 
they were revived by this reflection, that God regards them, 
and that the end of their present evils is approaching ? But 
though they rely on the certainty of this hope, they at the same 
time cease not to pray ; because, without constant perseverance 
m prayer, we pray to no purpose. 



CHAPTER XXI. 



ETERNAL ELECTION, OR GOd's PREDESTINATION OF SOME TO 
"******' SALVATION, AND OF OTHERS TO DESTRUCTION. 

The covenant of life not bemg equally preached to all, and 
among those to whom it is preached not always finding the 
same reception, this diversity discovers the wonderful depth of 
the Divine judgment. Nor is it to be doubted that this variety 
also follows, subject to the decision of God's eternal election. 
If it be evidently the result of the Divine will, that salvation is 
freely oifered to some, and others are prevented from attaining 
it, — this immediately gives rise to important and difficult ques- 
tions, which are incapable of any other explication, than by the 
establishment of pious minds in what ought to be received 
concerning election and predestination — a question, in the 
opinion of many, full of perplexity ; for they consider nothing 
more unreasonable, than that, of the common mass of mankind, 
some should be predestinated to salvation, and others to de- 
struction. But how unreasonably they perplex themselves will 
afterwards appear from the sequel of our discourse. Besides, 
the very obscurity which excites such dread, not only displays 
the utility of this doctrine, but shows it to be productive of the 
most delightful benefit. We shall never be clearly convinced 
as we ought to be, that our salvation flows from the fountain 
of God's free mercy, till we are acquainted with his eternal 
election, which illustrates the grace of God by this comparison, 
that he adopts not all promiscuously to the hope of salvation, 
ibut gives to some what he refuses to others. Ignorance of this 
I principle evidently detracts from the Divine glory, and dim i- 

(/) ) Sam. ii. 6. 



CHAP. XXI.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 141 

nishas real huaiiility. But according to Paul, what is so neces- 
sary to be" known, never can be known, unless God, without 
any regard to works, chooses those whom he has decreed. " At \ 
this present time also, there is a remnant according to the 1 
election of grace. And ii by grace, then it is no more of works ; 
otherwise, grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then 
it is no more grace ; otherwise, work is no more work." (g) 
If we need to be recalled to the origin of election, to prove that 
we obtain salvation from no other source than the mere goodness 
of God, they who desire to extinguish this principle, do all 
they can to obscure what ought to be magnificently and loudly 
celebrated, and to pluck up humility by the roots. In ascribing 
the salvation of the remnant of the people to the election of 
grace, Paul clearly testifies, that it is then only known that 
God saves whom he will of his mere good pleasure, and does 
not dispense a reward to which there can be no claim. They\ 
who shut the gates to prevent any one from presuming to] 
approach and taste this doctrine, do no less injury to man than! 
to God; for nothing else will be sufficient to produce in usf 
suitable humility, or to impress us with a due sense of our great' 
obligations to God. Nor is there any other basis for solid 
confidence, even according to the authority of Christ, who, to 
deliver us from all fear, and render us invincible amidst so many 
dangers, snares, and deadly conflicts, promises to preserve in 
safety all whom the Father has committed to his care. Whence 
we infer, that they who know not themselves to be God's 
peculiar people will be tortured with continual anxiety ; and 
therefore, that the interest of all believers, as well as their 
own, is very badly consulted by those who, blind to the three 
advantages we have remarked, would wholly remove the foun- 
dation of our salvation. And hence the Church rises to our 
view, which otherwise, as Bernard justly observes, could neither 
be discovered nor recognized among creatures, being in two 
respects wonderfully concealed in the bosom of a blessed pre- 
destination, and in the mass of a miserable damnation. But 
before I enter on the subject itself, I must address some pre- 
liminary observations to two sorts of persons. The discussion 
of predestination — a subject of itself rather- intricate — is made 
very perplexed, and therefore dangerous, b^Jiuman curiosity, 
which no barriers can restrain from wandering into forbidden 
labyrinths, and soaring beyond its sphere, as if determined to 
leave none of the Divine secrets unscrutinized or unexplored. 
As we see multitudes every where guilty of this arrogance and 
presumption, and among them some who are not censurable 
in other respects, it is proper to admonish them of the bounds 

(g) Rom. XI .5, 6 



142 INSTITUTES or THE [bOOK III. 

of their duty on this subject. First, then, let them remember 
that when they inquire into predestination, they penetrate the 
inmost recesses of Divine wisdom, where the careless and 
confident intruder will obtain no satisfaction to his curiosity, 
bat will enter a labyrinth from which he will find no way to 
depart. For it is unreasonable that man should scrutinize with 
impunity those things which the Lord has determined to be 
hidden in himself; and investigate, even from eternity, that 
sublimity of wisdom which God would have us to adoie and 
not comprehend, to promote our admiration of his glory. The 
secrets of his will which he determined to reveal to us, he 
discovers in his word ; and these are all that he foresaw would 
concern us or conduce to our advantage. 

II. " We are come into the way of faith," says Augustine ; 
" let us constantly pursue it. It conducts into the king's 
palace, in which are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge. For the Lord Christ himself envied not his great 
and most select disciples when he said, ' 1 have many things to 
say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.' We must walk, 
we must improve, we must grow, that our hearts may be able 
to understand those things of which we are at present incapa- 
ble. If the last day finds us improving, we shall then learn 
what we never could learn in the present state." If we only 
'consider that the word of the Lord is the only way to lead us 
jto an investigation of all that ought to be believed concerning 
him, and the only light to enlighten us to behold all that ought 
to be seen of him, this consideration will easily restrain and 
preserve us from all presumption. For we shall know that 
when we have exceeded the limits of the word, we shall get 
into a devious and darksome course, in which errors, slips, and 
falls will often be inevitable. Let us, then, in the first place, 
bear in mind, that to desire any^ther knowledge of predestina- 
tion than w;hat is unfolded in the word of God, indicates as 
great folly, as a wish to walk through unpassable roads, or to 
see in the dark. Nor let us be ashamed to be ignorant of somci 
things relative to a subject in which there is a kind of learnedj 
ignorance. Rather let us abstain with cheerfulness from the! 
pursuit of that knowledge, the aflfectation of which is foolish, 
dangerous, and even fatal. But if we are stimulated by the 
wantonness of intellect, we must oppose it with a reflection 
calculated to repress it, that as " it is not good to eat much 
honey, so for men to search their own glory, is not glory." (h) 
For there is sufficient to deter us from that presumption, which 
3an only precipitate us into ruin. 
f III Others, desirous of remedying this evil, will have all] 

(A) Prov. XXV. 27. 



CHAP. XXI.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 143 

^mention of predestination to be as it were buried ; they teach 
men to avoid every question concerning it as they would a 
precipice. Though their moderation is to be commended, in 
judging that mysteries ought to be handled with such great 
sobriety, yet, as they descend too low, they have little influence 
on the mind of man, which refuses to submit to unreasonable 
restraints. To observe, therefore, the legitimate boundary on 
this side also, we must recur to the word of the Lord, which 
affords a certain rule for the understanding. For the Scripture 
IS the school of the Holy Spirit, in which, as nothing necessary 
and useful to be known is omitted, so nothing is taught which 
it is not beneficial to know. Whatever, therefore, is declared 
in the Scriptui^e concerning predestination, we must be cautious 
not to withhold from believers, lest we appear either to de- 
fraiid them of the favor of their God, or to reprove and censure 
the Holy Spirit for publishing what it would be useful by any 
means to suppress. Let us, I say, permit the Christian man to i 
"opeii his heart and his ears to all the discourses addressed to | 
him by God, only with this moderation, that as soon as the j|x 
_L9rd closes his sacred mouth, he shall also desist from further | 
inquiry. This will be the best barrier of sobriety, if in learn- 
ing we not only follow the leadings of God, but as soon as he 
ceases to teach, we give up our desire of learning. Nor is the 
danger they dread, sufficient to divert our attention from the 
oracles of God. It is a celebrated observation of Solomon, that 
" it is the glory of God to conceal a thing." (?) But, as both 
piety and common sense suggest that this is not to be under- 
stood generally of every thing, we must seek for the proper 
distinction, lest we content ourselves with brutish ignorance 
under the pretext of modesty and sobriety. Now, this distinc- 
tion is clearly expressed in a few words by Moses. " The 
secret things," he says, " belong unto the Lord our God ; but 
those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our 
children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." (ky 
Fbr we see how he enforces on the people attention to the 
doctrine of the law only by the celestial decree, because it 
pleased God to promulgate it ; and restrains the same people 
within those limits with this single reason, that it is not lawful 
for mortals to intrude into the secrets of God. 

IV. Profane persons, I confess, suddenly lay hold of some- 
thing relating to the subject of predestination, to furnish occa- 
sion for objections, cavils, reproaches, and ridicule. But if we 
are frightened from it by their impudence, all the princi- 
pal articles of the faith must be concealed, for there is scarcely 
one of them which such persons as these leave unviolated I y 

(i) Prov XXV. 2. (k) Deut. xxix. 29. 



144" INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III, 

blasphemy. The refractory mind will discover as much inso- 
lence, on hearing that there are three persons m the Divine 
essence, as on being told, that when God created man, he fore- 
saw what would happen concerning him. Nor will they 
refrain from derision on being informed, that little more than 
five thousand years have elapsed since the creation of the 
world. They will ask why the power of God was so long idle 
and asleep. Nothing can be advanced which they will not 
endeavour to ridicule. Must we, in order to check these sacri- 
leges, say nothing of the Divinity of the Son and Spirit, or pass 
over in silence the creation of the world ? In this instance, and 
every other, the truth of God is too powerful to dread the 
detraction of impious men ; as is strenuously maintained by 
Augustine, in his treatise on the Perseverance of the Faithful. 
We see the false apostles, with all their defamation and accu- 
sation of the true doctrine of Paul, could never succeed to 
make him ashamed of it. Their assertion, that all this discus- 
sion is dangerous to pious minds, because it is inconsistent 
with exhortations, shakes their faith, and disturbs and discou- 
rages the heart itself, is without any foundation. Augustine 
admits, that he was frequently blamed, on these accounts, for 
preaching predestination too freely ; but he readily and am- 
ply refutes them. But as many and various absurdities are 
crowded upon us here, we prefer reserving every one to be 
refuted in its proper place. 1 only desire this general admis- 
sion, that we should neither scrutinize those things which the 
Lord has left concealed, nor neglect those which he has openly 
exhibited, lest we be condemned for excessive curiosity on the 
one hand, or for ingratitude on the other. For it is judiciously 
remarked by Augustine, that we may safely follow the Scrip- 
ture, which proceeds as with the pace of a mother stooping to 
the weakness of a child, that it may not leave our weak capa- 
cities behind. But persons who are so cautious or timid, as to 
wish predestination to be buried in silence, lest feeble minds? 
should be disturbed, — with what pretext, I ask, will they gloss 
oyer their arrogance, which indirectly charges God with foolish 
inadvertency, as though he foresaw not the danger which they 
suppose they have had the penetration to discover. Whoever, 
therefore, endeavours to raise prejudices against the doctrine 
of predestination, openly reproaches God, £is though something 
had inconsiderately escaped from him that is pernicious to the 
Church. 

V. Predestination, by which God adopts some to the hope 
of life, and adjudges others to eternal death, no one, desirous 
of the credit of piety, dares absolutely to deny. But it is in- 
volved in many cavils, especially by those who make fore- 
knowledge the cause of it. We maintain, that both belong to 



CHAP XXI. CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 



145 



God ; but it is preposterous to represent one as dependent on 
the other. M5Qij£ii.we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean 
that all things have ever been, and perpetually remain, before 
his eyes, so that to his knowledge nothing is future or past, but 
ail things are present ; and present in such a manner, that he 
does not merely conceive of them from ideas formed in his 
mind, as things remembered by us appear present to our minds, 
but really beholds and sees them as if actually placed befgreJiica. '' 
And this foreknowledge extends to the whole world, and to all 
the creatures. Predestination we call the eternal decree of 
God, by which he has determined in himself, what he would 
Jiave to become of every individual of mankind. For they are » 
riot all created with a similar destiny ; but eternal life is fore- V 
ordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every 
man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, 
we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death. This God 
has not only testified in particular persons, but has given a 
specimen of it in the whole posterity of Abraham, which should 
evidently show the future condition of every nation to depend 
upon his decision. " When the Most High divided the nations,*^ 
when he separated the sons of Adam, the Lord's portion was 
his people; Jacob was the lot of his inheritance." (Z) The 
separation is before the eyes of all : in the person of Abraham, 
as in the dry trunk of a tree, one people is peculiarly chosen 
to the rejection of others : no reason for this appears, except 
that Moses, to deprive their posterity of all occasion of glorying, 
teaches them that their exaltation is wholly from God's gra- ^ 
tuitous love. He assigns this reason for their deliverance, that t 
" he loved their fathers, and chose their seed after them."(m)"' 
More fully in another chapter : " The Lord did not set his love 
upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number 
than any people ; but because the Lord loved you." (?i) He 
frequently repeats the same admonition : " Behold, the heaven 
is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. 
Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and 
he chose their seed after them." (o) In another place, sancti- 
fication is enjoined upon them, because they were chosen to 
be a peculiar people, (p) And again, elsewhere, love is asserted 
to be the cause of their protection. It is declared by the united 
voice of the faithful, " He hath chosen our inheritance for us, 
the excellency of Jacob, whom he loved." (q) For the gifts 
conferred on them by God, they all ascribe to gratuitous love, 
not only from a consciousness that these were not obtained by 
any merit of theirs, but from a conviction, that the holy patri- 

(l) Deut. xxxii. 8, 9. (n) Deut. vii. 7, 8. (p) Deut. xxiii. 

(m) Deut. iv. 37. (o) Deut. x. 14, 15. (q) Psalm xlvii. 4. 

VOL. II. 19 



1-^6 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

arch him 3elf was not endued with such excellence as to acquire 
the privilege of so great an honour for himself and his pos- 
terity. And the more effectually to demolish all pride, he 
reproaches them with having deserved no favour, being " a stiff- 
necked and rebellious people." (r) The prophets also fre- 
quently reproach the Jews with the unwelcome mention of this 
election, because they had shamefully departed from it. Let 
them, however, now come forward, who wish to restrict the 
election of God to the desert of men, or the merit of works. 
When they see one nation preferred to all others, — when they 
hear that God had no inducement to be more favourable to a 
few, and ignoble, and even disobedient and obstinate people, — 
will they quarrel with him because he has chosen to give such 
an example of mercy ? But their obstreperous clamours will 
not impede his work, nor will the reproaches they hurl against 
Heaven, injure or affect his justice ; they will rather recoil 
upon their own heads. To this principle of the gracious cove- 
nant, the Israelites are also recalled whenever thanks are to 
be rendered to God, or their hopes are to be raised for futurity. 
" He hath m ade us, and n^t we ourselves," says the Psalmist : 
I" we are his peopIe7 and thelheep of his pasture." (s) It is not 
without reason that the negation is added, " not we ourselves," 
that they may know that of all the benefits they enjoy, God is 
not only the Author, but derived the cause from himself, there 
being nothing in them deserving of such great honour. He 
also enjoins them to be content with the mere good pleasure 
of God, in these words : " O ye seed of Abraham his servant, 
ye children of Jacob his chosen." And after having recounted 
the continual benefits bestowed by God as fruits of election, he 
at length concludes that he had acted with such liberality, " be- 
cause he remembered his covenant." {t) Consistent with this 
Idoctrine is the song of the whole Church : " Thy right hand, 
and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, gave our fa- 
'thers the land, because thou hadst a favour unto them." (w) 
It must be observed that where mention is made of the land, 
It is a visible symbol of the secret separation, which compre- 
hends adoption. David, in another place, exhorts the people 
/to the same gratitude : " Blessed is the nation whose God is 
I the Lo d ; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own 
1 inheritance." (x) Samuel animates to a good hope : " The 
Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake ; 
because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people." (y) 
David, when his faith is assailed, thus arms himself for the 
conflict : " Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest 



(r) Deut. ix 6, 7 («) Psalm cv. 6, 8 (x) Psalm xxxiii. 12. 

(s) Psulin c. 3. (u) Psalm xliv. 3. (w) 1 Sam. xii. 22 



tHiP. XXI. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 147 

to approacli uato, thee ; he shall dwell in thy courts." (^J 
But smce the ele:tioii hidden in God has been confirmed bjl 
the first deliverance, as well as by the second and other inter- 
mediate blessings, the word choose is transferred to it in Isaiah : 
" The Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose 
Israel ; " (a) because, contemplating a future period, he declares 
that the collection of the residue of the people, whom he had 
appeared to have forsaken, would be a sign of the stable and 
sure election, which had likewise seemed to fail. When he 
says also, in another place, " I have chosen thee, and not cast 
thee away," (6) he commends the continual course of his sig- 
nal liberality and paternal benevolence. The angel, in Zecha- 
riah, speaks more plainly : " The Lord shall choose Jerusalem 
again ; " (c) as though his severe chastisement had been a 
rejection, or their exile had been an interruption of election ; 
which, nevertheless, remains inviolable, though the tokens of 
it are not always visible. 

VL We must now proceed to a second degree of election, 
still more restricted, or that in which the Divine grace was 
displayed in a more special manner, when of the same race of 
Abraham God rejected some, and by nourishing others in the 
Church, proved that he retained them among his children 
Ishmael at first obtained the same station as his brother Isaac 
for the spiritual covenant was equally sealed in him by the 
symbol of circumcision. He is cut off; afterwards Esau; 
lastly, an innumerable multitude, and almost all Israel. In 
Isaac the seed was called ; the same calling continued in Jacob. 
God exhibited a similar example in the rejection of Saul, which 
is magnificently celebrated by the Psalmist : " He refused the 
tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim, but 
chose the tribe of Judah ; " (<^) and this the sacred history fre- 
quently repeats, that the wonderful secret of Divine grace may 
be more manifest in that change. I grant, it was by their own 
crime and guilt that Ishmael, Esau, and persons of similar cha- 
racters, fell from the adoption ; because the condition annexed 
was, that they should faithfully keep the covenant of God, 
which they perfidiously violated. Yet it was a peculiar favour 
of God, that he deigned to prefer them to other nations ; as it 
is said in the Psalms : " He hath not dealt so with any nation : 
and as for his judgments, they have not known them." (e) 
But I have justly said that here are two degrees to be remarked ; 
for in the election of the whole nation, God has already shown 
that in his mere goodness he is bound by no laws, but is per- 
fee:ly free, so that none can requhe of him an equal distribu- 



(z) Psalm Ixv. 4. (b) Isaiah xli. 9 (rf) Psalm ixyiii. 67 68. 

» Isaiah xiv. 1 (c) Zech. ii. 12. (e) Psalm cxlvii. 20. 



148 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK II« 

tion of grace, the inequality of which demonstratts it to be 
truly gratuitous. Therefore Malachi aggravates the ingratitude 
of Israel, because, though not only elected out of the whole 
race of mankind, but also separated from a sacred family to be 
a peculiar people, they perfidiously and impiously despised God 
their most beneficent Father. " Was not Esau Jacob's bro- 
ther ? saith the Lord : yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau." (/) 
For God takes it for granted, since both were sons of a holy 
father, successors of the covenant, and branches from a sacred 
root, that the children of Jacob were already laid under more 
than common obligations by their admission to that honour ; 
but Esau the first-born having been rejected, and their father, 
though inferior by birth, having been made the heir, he proves 
them guilty of double ingratitude, and complains of their vio- 
lating this twofold claim. 

VII. Though it is sufficiently clear, that God, in his secret 
counsel, freely chooses whom he will, and rejects others, his 
gratuitous election is but half displayed till we come to particu- 
lar individuals, to whom God not only offers salvation, but as- 
signs it in such a manner, that the certainty of the effect is 
liable to no suspense or doubt. These are included in that 
one seed mentioned by Paul ; for though the adoption was de- 
posited in the hand of Abraham, yet many of his posterity 
being cut off as putrid members, in order to maintain the effi- 
cacy and stability of election, it is necessary to ascend to the 
head, in whom their heavenly Father has bound his elect to 
each other, and united them to himself by an indissoluble 
bond. Thus the adoption of the family of Abraham displayed 
"the favour of God, which he denied to others; but in the 
members of Christ there is a conspicuous exhibition of the 
superior efficacy of grace ; because, being united to their head, 
they never fail of salvation. Paul, therefore, justly reasons 
from the passage of Malachi which I have just quoted, that 
where God, introducing the covenant of eternal life, invites any 
people to himself, there is a peculiar kind of election as to part 
of them, so that he does not efficaciously choose all with indis- 
criminate'grace. The declaration, " Jacob have I loved," re- 
spects the whole posterity of the patriarch, whom the prophet 
there opposes to the descendants of Esau. Yet this is no ob- 
jection to our having in the person of one individual a specimen 
of the election, which can never fail of attaining its full effect. 
[These, who truly belong to Christ, Paul correctly observes, are 
called "a. remnant;" for experience proves, that of a great 
multitude the most part fall away and disappear, so that often 
only a small portion remains. That the general election of 4 

(/) Mai. i. 2, 3. 



CHAP. XXI.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 149 

people is not alv/ays effectual and permanent, a reason readily 
presents itself, because, when God covenants with them, he does 
not also give them the spirit of regeneration to enable them to 
persevere m the covenant to the end ; but the external call, )\ 
without the internal efficacy of grace, which would be suffi- • ' 
cient for their preservation, is a kind of medium between tha 
rejection of all mankind and the election of the small number 
of believers. The whole nation of Israel was called " God's 
inheritance," though many of them were strangers ; but God, 
having firmly covenanted to be their Father and Redeemer, 
regm-ds that gratuitous favour rather than the defection of mul- 
titudes ; by whom his truth was not violated, because his pre- 
servation of a certain remnant to himself, made it evident that his 
calling was without repentance. For God's collection of a 
Church for himself, from time to time, from the children of 
Abraham, rather than from the profane nations, was in con- 
sideration of his covenant, which, being violated by the multi- 
tude, he restric tfid-Iga^ fe w , to prevent its total failure. Lastly, 
the general adoption oT'the seed of Abraham was a visible re-j 
presentation of a greater blessing, which God conferred on e^ 
few out of the multitude. This is the reason that Paul sol 
carefully distinguishes the descendants of Abraham according 
to the flesh, from his spiritual children called after the example 1 
of Isaac. Not that the mere descent from Abraham was a vain 
and unprofitable thing, which could not be asserted without 
depreciating the covenant ; but because 1 d the latter alone the 
immutable counsel of God, in which he predestinated whom 
he would, was of itself effectual to salvation. But I advise my 
readers to adopt no prejudice on either side, till it shall appear 
from adduced passages of Scripture what sentiments ought tc 
be entertained. In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine 
of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable 
counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would 
adrnit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruc- 
tion. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns the elect, \ 
is founded on his _gratiiitgus. mercy, totally irrespective of I 
human merit ;"t)ut that to those whom he'devotes to condem-l 
nation, the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, i 
but incompiehensible, judgment. In the elect, we consider l 
calling as an evidence of election, and jusdfication as another! 
token of its manifestation, till they arrive in glory, which con- 
stitutes its completion. As God seals his elect by vocation 
and justification, so by excluding the reprobate from the know-| 
ledge of his name and the sanctification of his Spirit, he affords , 
an indication of the judgment that awaits them. Here I shall 
pass over many fictions fabricated by foolish men to overthrow 
predestination. It is unnecessary to refute things which, a» 



150 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK I« 

soon as they are advanced, sufficiently prove their own false- 
hood. I shall dwell only on those things which are subjects 
of controversy among the learned, or which may occasion dif- 
ficulty to simple minds, or which impiety speciously pleads in 
order to stigmatize the Divine justice. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

TESTIMONIES OF SCKIPTURE IN CONFIRMATION OF THIS DOCTRINE. 

All the positions we have advanced are controverted by ma- 
ny, especially the gratuitous election of believers, which never- 
theless cannot be shaken. It is a notion commonly entertained, 
that God, foreseeing what would be the respective merits of 
every individual, makes a correspondent distinction between 
different persons ; that he adopts as his children such as he 
foreknows will be deserving of his grace, and devotes to the 
damnation of death others, whose dispositions he sees will be 
inclined to wickedness and impiety. Thus they not only 
obscure election by covering it with the veil of foreknow- 
ledge, but pretend that it originates in another cause. Nor is 
this commonly received notion the opinion of the vulgar only, 
for it has had great advocates in all ages ; which I candidly 
confess, that no one may cherish a confidence of injuring oui 
cause by opposing us with their names. For the truth of God 
on this point is too certain to be shaken, too clear to be over- 
thrown by the authority of men. Others, neither acquainted 
with the Scripture, nor deserving of any attention, oppose the 
sound doctrine with extreme presumption and intolerable ef- 
frontery. God's sovereign election of some, and preterition of 
others, they make the subject of formal accusation against 
him. But if this is the known fact, what will they gain by 
quarrelling with God ? We teach nothing but what experience 
has proved, that God has always been at liberty to bestow his 
grace on whom he chooses. I will not inquire how the pos- 
terity of Abraham excelled other nations, unless it was by that 
[favour, the cause of which can only be found in God. Let them 
answer why they are men, and not oxen or Eisses : when it was 
in God's power to create them dogs, he formed them after his 
own image. Will they allow the brute animals to expostulate 
' with God respecting their condition, as though the distinction 
j were unjust ? Their enjoyment of a privilege which they have 
I acquired by no merits, is certainly no more reasonable thai: 



CHAP. XXII. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 151 

iGod's various distribution of his favours according to the mea- 
isure of his judgment. If they make a transition to persons 
where the inequality is more offensive to them, the example 
of Christ at least ought to deter them from carelessly prating 
concerning this sublime mystery. A mortal man is conceived 
of the seed of David : to the merit of what virtues will they 
ciscribe his being made, even in the womb, the Head of angels, 
the only begotten Son of God, the Image and Glory of the 
Father, the Light, Righteousness, and Salvation of the world ? 
It is judiciously remarked by Augustine, that there is the 
brightest example of gratuitous election in the Head of the 
Church himself, that it may not perplex us in the members ; 
that he did not become the Son of God by leading a righteous 
life, but was gratuitously invested with this high honour, that 
he might afterwards render others partakers of the gifts be- 
stowed upon him. If any one inquire, why others are not all 
that he was, or why we are all at such a vast distance from 
him, — why we are all corrupt, and he purity itself, — he will 
betray both folly and impudence. But if they persist in the 
wish to deprive God of the uncontrollable right of choosing 
and rejecting, let them also take away what is given to Christ. 
Novr, it is of importance to attend to what the Scripture de- 
clares respecting every individual. Paul's assertion, that we 
were " chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world," (g) 
certainly^precltides airy consideration of merit in us ; for it is 
as though he had said, our heavenly Father, finding nothing 
worthy of his choice in all the posterity of Adam, turned his 
views towards his Christ, to choose members from his body 
whom he would admit to the fellowship of life. Let be- 
lievers, then, be satisfied with this reason, that we were adopted 
in Christ to the heavenly inheritance, because in ourselves we 
were incapable of such high dignity. He has a similar remark . 
m another place, where he exhorts the Colossians to " give 1 
thanks unto the Father, who had made them meet to be parta- | 
kers of the inheritance of the saints." (h) If election precedes 
this grace of God, which makes us meet to obtain the glory of 
the life to come, what will God find in us to induce him to 
elect us ? Another passage from this apostle will still morei 
clearly express my meaning. " He hath chosen us," he says, 
"before the foundation of the world, according to the good 
pleasure of his will, that we should be holy, and without blame 
before him ; " (i) where he opposes the good pleasure of God 
to all our merits whatsoever. 

II. To render the proof more complete, it will be useful to 
notice all the clauses of that passage, which, taken in connec- 

{g) Ephes. i 4. (A) Col. i. 12. (£) Ephes. i. 4, 5 



152 INSTITUTE? OF THE [bOOK 111, 

tion, leave no room for doubt. By the appellation of the elect 
or chosen, he certainly designates believers, as he soon after 
declares: wherefore it is corrupting the term by a shameful fiction 
to restrict it to the age in which the gospel was published. By 
saying that they, were elected before the creation of the world 
he precludes every consideration of merit. For what could be 
the reason for discrimination between those who yet had no 
existence, and whose condition was afterward to be the same 
in Adam ? Now, if they are chosen in Christ, it follows, not 
only that each individual is chosen out of himself, but also that 
some are separated from others ; for it is evident, that all are 
not members of Christ. The next clause, stating them to have 
been " chosen that they might be holy," fully refutes the error 
which derives election from foreknowledge ; since Paul, on the 
contrary, declares that all the virtue discovered in men is the 
eflfect of election. If any inquiry be made after a superior cause, 
Paul replies, that God thus "predestinated," and that it was 
"according to the good pleasure of his will." This overturns 
any means of election which men imagine in themselves ; for 
all the benefits conferred by God for the spiritual life, he repre- 
sents as flowing from this one source, that God elected whom 
he would, and, before they were born, laid up in reserve for 
them the grace with which he determined to favor them. 

III. Wherever this decree of God reigns, there can be no 
consideration of any works. The antithesis, indeed, is not pur- 
sued here ; but it must be understood, as^it is amplified by the 

isame writer in another place: "Who hath called us with a 
holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his 
own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, 
before the world began." {k) And we have already shown 
that the following clause, "that we should be holy," removes 

/every difficulty. For say. Because he foresaw they would be 
holy, therefore he chose them, and you will invert the order of 

'Paul. We may safely infer, then, If he chose us that we 
should be holy, his foresight of our future holiness was not the 

I cause of his choice. For these two propositions, That the 
holiness of believers is the fruit of election, and, That they 

(attain it by means of works, are incompatible with each other. 
Nor is there any force in the cavil to which they frequently 
resort, that the grace of election was not God's reward of an- 
tecedent works, but his gift to future jnes. For when it is 
said, that believers were elected that they should be ho.y, it 
is fully implied, that the holiness they were in future to possess 
had its origin in election. And what consistencywould there 
be in asserting, that things derived~ lrbin_ ej ectio n were the 

(k) 2 Tim. i. 9. 



CHAP. XXII.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION, 153 

causes of election ? A subsequent clause seems further to con- 
firm what he had said — " according to his good pleasure, which 
he purposed in himself." (/) For the assertion, that God pur- 
posed in himself, is equivalent to saying, that he considered 
nothing out of himself, with any view to influence his deter- 
mination. Therefore he immediately subjoins,, that the great 
and on'y object of our election is, " that we should be to the 
praise of" Divine "grace." Certainly the grace of God de- 
serves not the sole praise of our election, unless this election be 
gratuitous. Now, it could not be gratuitous, if, in choosing his 
people, God himself considered what would be the nature of 
their respective works. The declaration of Christ to his dis- 
ciples, therefore, is universally applicable to all believers : 
" Ye 1: ave not chosen me, but I have chosen you ; " (m) which 
not only'excludes past merits, but signifies that they had nothing 
in themselves to cause their election, independently of his pre- 
venting mercy. This also is the meaning of that passage of 
Paul, " Whohath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed 
unto him again?" (n) For his design is to show, that God's 
goo3ness altogether anticipates men, finding nothing in them, 
either past or future, to conciliate his favour towards them. 

IV. In the Epistle to the Romans, where he goes to the 
bottom of this argument, and pursues it more at length, he says, 
" They are not all Israel which are " born " of Israel ; " (o) be- 
cause though all were blessed by hereditary right, yet the suc- 
cession did not pass to all alike. This controversy originated 
in the pride and vain-glorying of the Jewish people, who, claim- 
ing for themselves the title of the Church, would make the 
faith of the gospel to depend on their decision ; just as, in 
the present day, the Papists with this false pretext would sub- 
stitute themselves in the place of God. Paul, though he admits 
the posterity of Abraham to be holy in consequence of the 
covenant, yet contends that most of them are strangers to 
it ; and that not only because they degenerate, from legitimate 
children becoming spurious ones, but because the preeminence 
and sovereignty belong to God's special election, which is the 
sole foundation of the validity of their adoption. If some were 
established in the hope of salvation by their own piety, and the 
rejection of others were owing wholly to their own defection, 
Paul's reference of his readers to the secret election would indeed 
be weak and absurd. Now, if the will of God, of which no 
cause appears or must be sought out of himself, discriminates 
some from others, so that the children of Israel are not all true 
Israelites, it is in vain pretended that the condition of every 
individual originates with himself. He pursues the subject fur* 

(I) Ephes i. 9. (m) John xv. 16. (n) Rom. xi. aS (o) Rom. ix. 6, 

VOL. II, 20 



154 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III, 

ther under the example of Jacob and Esau ; for being both child- 
ren of Abraham, and both enclosed in their mother's womb, the 
transfer of the honour of primogeniture to Jacob was by a pre- 
ternatural change, which Paul, however, contends indicated the 
election of the one and the reprobation of the other. The ori- 
gin and the cause are inquired, which the champions of fore- 
•knowledge maintain to be exhibited in the virtues and the vices of 
men.' For this is their short and easy doctrine — That God has 
showed in the person of Jacob, that he elects such as are worthy 
of his grace ; and in the person of Esau, that he rejects those 
iwTiom he foresees to be unworthy. This, indeed, they assert 
I with confidence ; but what is the testimony of Paul ? " The 
jchildi-en being not yet born, neither havin.g_done any good_or 
evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, 
not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said, The elder 
'Shall serve the younger ; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, 
'but Esau have I hated." (p) If this distinction between the 
(brothers was influenced by foreknowledge, the mention of the 
/time must certainly be unnecessary. On the supposition that 
Jacob was elected, because that honour was acquired by his 
future virtues, to what purpose could Paul remark that he was 
not yet born ? It would not have been so proper to add, that 
he had not yet done any good ; for it will be immediately 
replied, that nothing is concealed from God, and therefore the 
piety of Jacob must have been present before him. If grace be 
the reward of works, they ought to have had their just value 
attributed to them before Jacob was born, as much as if he 
were already grown to maturity. But the apostle proceeds in 
miravelling the difficulty, and teaches that the adoption of Ja- 
cob flowed not from works, but from the calling of God. In 
speaking of works, he introduces no time, futiure or past, but 
I positively opposes them to the calling of God, intending the 
establishment of the one, and the absolute subversion of the 
other ; as though he had said, We must consider the good plea- 
sure of God, and not the productions of men. Lastly, the very 
terms, election and purpose, certainly exclude from this subject 
all the causes frequently invented by men, independently of 
God's secret counsel. 

V. Now, what pretexts will be urged to obscure these argu- 
ments, by those who attribute to works, either past or future, 
any influence on election ? For this is nothing but an evasion 
of the apostle's argument, that thfi distinction between the two 
brothers depends not on any consideration of works, but on the 
mere calling of God, because it was fixed between them when 
they were not yet born. Nor would their subtilty have es- 

(p) Rom IX. 11—13. 



JHAP. XXIl.j CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 156 

caped him, if there had been any solidity in it ; but well know- 
ing the impossibility of God's foreseeing any good in man, ex- 
cept what he had first determined to bestow by the benefit ofi 
his election, he resorts not to the preposterous order of placing 
good works before their cause. We have the apostle's author- 
ity that the salvation of believers is founded solely ou the de- 
cision of D.vine election, and that that favour is not procured, 
by works, but proceeds from gratuitous calling. We have also 
a lively exhibition of this truth in a particular example « Jacob 
and Esau are brothers, begotten of the same parents, still en- 
closed in the same womb, not yet brought forth into light ; 
there is in all respects a perfect equality between them ; yet 
the judgment of God concerning them is different. For he 
takes one, and rejects the other. The primogeniture was the 
only thing that gave one a right of priority to the other. But 
that also is passed by, and on the younger is bestowed what is 
refused to the elder. In other instances, also, God appears 
always to have treated primogeniture with designed and deci- 
ded contempt, to cut off from the flesh all occasion of boasting. 
He rejects Ishmael, and favours Isaac. He degrades Manasseh, 
and honours Ephraim. 

VI. If it be objected, that from these inferior and inconsider- 
able benefits, it must not be concluded respecting the life to 
come, that he who has been raised to the honour of primogeni- 
ture is therefore to be considered as adopted to the inheritance 
of heaven, — for there are many who spare not Paul, as though 
in his citation of Scripture testimonies he had perverted them 
from their genuine meaning, — I answer as before, that the 
apostle has neither erred through inadvertency, nor wilfully 
perverted testimonies of Scripture. But he saw, what they 
cannot bear to consider, that God intended by an earthly 
symbol to declare the spiritual election of Jacob, which other- 
wise lay concealed behind his inaccessible tribunal. For 
unless the primogeniture granted him had reference to the 
future world, it was a vain and ridiculous kind of blessing, 
which produced him nothing but various afflictions and ad- 
versities, grievous exile, numerous cares, and bitter sorrows. 
Discerning, beyond all doubt, that God's external blessing was 
an indication of the spiritual and permanent blessing he had 
prepared for his servant in his kingdom, Paul hesitated not to 
argue from the former in proof of the latter. It must also be 
remembered, that to the land of Canaan was annexed the 
pledge of the celestial residence ; so that it ought not to 
be doubted that Jacob was ingrafted with angels into the body 
of Christ, that he might be a partaker of the same life. While 
Esau is rejected, therefore, Jacob is elected, and distinguished 
from him by God's predestination, without any difference of 



1 56 INSTITUTES OF THE [boOK III. 

merit. If you inquire the cause, the apostle assigns the fol- 

i lowing : " For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom 
I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I 
will have compassion." [q) And what is this but a plain de- 
claration of the Lord, that he finds no cause in men to induce 
him to^show tiSvbur to theni;' but derives it soleTy from his 
own mercy ; and tlTereibre that the salvation of his people is 
his work ? When God fixes your salvation in himself alone, 
why will you descend into yourself? When he assigns you 
\his mere mercy, why will you have recourse to your own 
fnerits ? When he confines all your attention to his mercy, 
why will you divert part of it to the contemplation of your 
own works? We must therefore come to that more select 
people, whom Paul in another place tells us " God fore- 
knew," (r) not using this word, according to the fancy of our 
opponents, to signify a prospect, from a place of idle observa- 
tion, of things which he has no part in transacting, but in the 
sense in which it is frequently used. For certainly^ when 
Peter says that Christ was" delivered " to death "by the de- 
terminate counsel and foreknowledge of God," (s) he introduces 
GoJ, not as a mere spectator, but as the Author of our salvation. 
So the same apostle, by calling believers, to whom he writes, 
" e^ect according to the__ foreknowledge of God^" (t) properly 
expresses that secret predestination by which~God has marked 
out whom he would as his children. And the word purpose, 
which is added as a synonymous term, and in common speech 
is always expressive of fixed determination, undoubtedly im- 
plies that God, as the Author of our salvation, does not go out 
of himself In this sense Christ is called, in the same chapter, 
the "Lamb foreknown before the foundation of the^world." 
I For whaT'can be more ab.surd or uninteresting, than God's 
I looking from on high to see from what quarter salvation 
(would come to mankind? The people, therefore, whom Paul 
describes as " foreknown," [ii) are no other than a small num- 
ber scattered among the multitude, who falsely pretend to be 
the people of God. In another place also, to repress the boast- 
ing of hypocrites assuming before the world the preeminence 
among the godly, Paul declares, " The Lord knoweth them 
that are his." (x) Lastly, by this expression Paul designates 
two classes of people, one consisting of the whole race of 
Abraham, the other separated from it, reserved under the eyes 
of God, and concealed from the view of men. And this, with- 
out doubt, he gathered from Moses, who asserts that God will 
be merciful to whom he will be merciful ; though he is speak- 

{q) Rom. ix. 15. (s) Acts ii. 23. (k) Rom. xi. 2. 

(r) Rom. xi. 2. (t) 1 Pet. i. 2. (z) 2 Tim. ii. 19 



JHAP. 15 XII.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 157 

ing of the chosen people, whose condition was, to outward a])- 
pearance, all alike ; as though he had said, that the common 
adoption includes in it peculiar grace towards some, who rc;- 
semble a more sacred treasure ; that the common covenant 
prevents not this small number being exempted from the com- 
mon lot ; and that, determined to represent himself as the un- 
controlled dispenser and arbiter in this affair, he positively 
denies that he will have mercy on one rather than another 
from any other motive than his own pleasure ; because, when 
mercy meets a person who seeks it, though he suffers no re- 
pulse, yet he either anticipates or in some degree obtains for 
himself that favour, of which God claims to himself all the 
praise. 

VII. Now, let the supreme Master and Judge decide the 
whole matter. Beholding in his hearers such extreme obdu- 
racy, that his discourses were scattered among the multitude 
almost without any effect, to obviate this offence, he exclaims, 
" All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me. And this/ 
is the Father's will, that of all which he hath given me, I 
should lose nothing." (y) Observe, the origin is from the do- 
nation of the Father, that we are given into the custody 
and protection of Christ. Here, perhaps, some one may argue 
in a circle, and object, that none are considered as the Father's 
peculiar people, but those whose surrender has been voluntary 
arising from faith. But Christ only insists on this point — that 
notwithstanding the defections of vast multitudes, shaking the 
whole world, yet the counsel of God will be stable and firmer 
than the heavens, so that election can never fail. They are 
said to have been the elect of the Father, before he gave them 
to his only begotten Son. Is it inquired whether this was by 
nature ? No, he draws those who were strangers, and so makes 
them his children. The language of Christ is too clear to be 
perplexed by the quibbles of sophistry : "No man can come to\ 
me, except the Father draw him. Every man that hath heard/ 
and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (2:) If all men 
promiscuously submitted to Christ, election would be common : 
now, the fewness of believers discovers a manifest distinction. 
Having asserted his disciples therefore, who were given to him, 
to be the peculiar portion of the Father, Christ a little after 
adds, "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast! 
given me, for they are thine ; " (a) which shows_that the whole' 
world does not belong to its Creator ; only that grace de- 
livers from the curse and wrath of God, and from eternal death, 
a few, who would otherwise perish, but leaves the world in its 
destruction, to which it has been destined. At the same time, 

(y) John vi. 37, 39. (z) John vi. 44, 45. (a) John xvii. 9 



158 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK Hi 

though Chiist introduces himself in his mediatorial capacity, 
yet he claims to himself the right of election, in common wi_th 
the Father. " I s£eak not of all," he says ; '^ I know whom 1 
have jchosen." (6) IF it' he" inquired whence he chose theni, 
he'elsewhere answers, " out_,Q£^the world," (c) which he ex- 
cludes from his prayers, when he commends his disciples to the 
jFather. It must be admitted, that when Christ asserts his 
knowledge of whom he has chosen, it refers to a particular 
class of mankind, and that they are distinguished, not by the 
nature of their virtues, but by the decree of Heaven. Whence 
it follows, that none attain any excellence by their own ability 
or industry, since Christ represents himself as the author of 
election. His enumeration of Judas among the elect, though 
he was a devil, only refers to the apostolicEil office, which, 
though an illustrious instance of the Divine favour, as Paul so 
frequently acknowledges in his own person, yet does not in- 
clude the hope of eternal salvation. Judas, therefore, in his 
unfaithful exercise of the apostleship, might he worse than a 
devil ; but of those whom Christ has once united to his body, 
he will never suffer one to perish ; for in securing their salva- 
tion, he will perform what he has f)romised, by exerting the 
power of God, who is greater than all. What he says in 
I another place, " Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and 
I none of them is lost, but the son of perdition," is a mode of 
expression, called catachresis, but the sense is sufficiently plain. 
The conclusion is, that God creates whom he chooses to be 
his children by gratuitous adoption ; that the cause of this is 
wholly in himself; because he exclusively regards his own 
secret determination. 

^ VHI. But, it will be said, Ambrose, Origen, and Jerome 
I believed that God dispenses his grace among men, according to 
I his foreknowledge of the good use which every individual will 
, make of it. Augustine also was once of the same sentiment ; 
but when he had made a greater proficiency in scriptural know- 
ledge, he not only retracted, but powerfully confuted it. And 
after his retractation, rebuking the Pelagians for persisting in 
this error, he says, " Who but must wonder that this most 
ingenious sense should escape the apostle ? For after propo- 
sing what was calculated to excite astonishment respecting 
those children yet unborn, he started to himself, by way of 
objection, the following question : What, then, is there unright- 
eousness with God ? It was the place for him to answer, that 
God foresaw the merits of each of them ; yet he says nothing 
of this, but resorts to the decrees and mercy of God." And in 
ino/her place, after having discarded all merits antecedent tc 

(i) John xiii. 18. (c) John xv. 19 



CHAP. XXII. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 159 

election, he says, ' Here undoubtedly falls to the ground the ' 
vain reasoning of those who defend the foreknowledge of God 
in opposition to his grace, and affirm that we were elected be- 
fore the foundation of the world, because God foreknew that 
we would be good, not that he himself would make us good. 
This is not the language of him who says, ' Ye have not cho- 
sen me, but I have chosen you.' {d) For if he elected us 
because he foreknew our futm-e good, he must also have fore- 
known our choice of him ; " and more to the like purpose. 
This testimony should have weight with those who readily ac- 
quiesce in the authority of the fathers. Though Augustine 
will not allow himself to be disunited from the rest, but shows 
by clear testimonies the falsehood of that discordance, with the 
odium of which he was loaded by the Pelagians, he makes the 
following quotations from Ambrose's book on predestination : 
" Whom Christ has mercy on, him he calls. Those who 
wero indevout he could, if he would, have made devout. 
But God calls whom he pleases, and makes whom he will] 
religious." If I were inclined to compile a whole volume 
from Augustine, I could easily show my readers, that I need 
no words but his ; but I am unwilling to burden them with 
prolixity. But come, let us suppose them to be silent ; let us 
attend to the subject itself. A difficult question was raised - - 
Whether it was a just procedure in God to favour with his 
grace certain particular persons. This Paul could have decided 
by a single word, if he had pleaded the consideration of works. 
Why, then, does he not do this, but rather continue his dis- 
course involved in the same difficulty ? Why, but from ne- » 
cessity ? for the Holy Spirit, who spoke by his mouth, never l\ 
laboured under the malady of forgetfulness. Without" any v 
evasion or circumlocution, therefore, he answers, that God fa- 
vours his elect because he will, and has mercy because he will. 
For this oracle, " I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, 
and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy," (e) is 
e(]uivalent to a declaration, that God is excited to mercy by no 
other motive than his own will to be merciful. The observa-j 
tion of Augustine therefore remains true, "that the grace of j 
God does not find men fit to be elected, but makes them so. 

IX. We shall not dwell upon the sophistry of Thomas Aqui- 
nas, " that the foreknowledge of merits is not the cause of pre- 
destination in regard to the act of him who predestinates; but 
that with regard to us, it may in some sense be so called, ac- 
cording to the particular consideration of predestination ; as 
when God is said to predestinate glory for man according to 
merits, becaujie he decreed to give him grace by which glory is 

(d) John XV. 16. (e) Exod. xxxiii 19. 



160 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK HI. 

merited." For since the Lord alloAvs us to contemplate nothing 
in election but his mere goodness, the desire of any one to see 
any thing more is a preposterous disposition. But if we were 
inclined to a contention of subtilty, we should be at no loss to 
refute this petty sophism of Aquinas. He contends that glory 
is in a certain sense predestinated for the elect according to 
their merits, because God predestinates to them the grace by 
which glory is merited. What if I, on the contrary, reply 
that predestination to grace is subordinate to election to life, 
and attendant upon it? that grace is predestinated to those to 
whom the possession of glory has been already assigned ; be- 
cause it pleases the Lord to conduct his children from election 
to justification ? For hence it will follow, that predestination to 
glory is rather the cause of pred^tination to grace, than the 
contrary. But let us dismiss these controversies ; they are 
unnecessary with those who think they have wisdom enough 
in the word of God. For it was truly remarked by an ancient 
ecclesiastical writer. That they who ascribe God's election to 
merits, are wiser than they ought to be. 

X. It is objected by some, that God will be inconsistent 
with himself, if he invites all men universally to come to him^ 
and receives only a few elect. Thus, according to them, the 
universality of the promises destroys the discrimination of special 
grace ; and this is the language of some moderate men, not so 
much for the sake of suppressing the truth, as to exclude thorny 
questions, and restrain the curiosity of many. The end is laudable, 
but the means cannot be approved ; for disingenuous evasion can 
never be excused ; but with those who use insult and invective, it 
is a foul cavil or a shameful error. How the Scripture reconciles 
these two facts, that by external preaching all are called to re- 
pentance and faith, and yet that the spirit of repentance and faith 
is not given to all, I have elsewhere stated, and shall soon have 
occasion partly to repeat. What they assume, I deny as being 
false in two respects. For he who threatens drought to one city 
while it rains upon another, and who denounces to another place 
a famine of doctrine, (/) lays himself under no positivt* obliga- 
tion to call all men alike. And he who, forbidding Paul to 
preach the word in Asia, and suffering him not to go into 
Bithynia, calls him into Macedonia, (g) demonstrates his right 
to distribute this treasure to whom he pleases. In Isaiah, he 
still more fully decl£U"es his destination of the promises of sal- 
vation exclusively for the elect ; for of them only, and not 
indiscriminately of all mankind, he declares that they shall be 
his disciples. (A) Whence it appears, that when the doctnne 
of salvation is offered to all for their effectual benefit, it is a 



(/) Amos iv. 7; viii. 11. (g) Acts xvi. 6 — 10. (h) Isaiah viii. 16, &c. 



HAP. XXII.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 161 

3omipt prostitution of that which is declared to be reserved par-| 
ticularly for the children of the church. At present let this suf-j 
fice, that though the voice of the gospel addresses all men gene-j 
rally, yet the gift of faith is bestowed on few. Isaiah assigns the 
cause, that " the arm of the Lord " is not " revealed " to all. («)l 
If he had said, that the gospel is wickedly and perversely despised, 
because many obstinately refuse to hear it, perhaps there wouldj 
be some colour for this notion of the universal call. The design 
of the prophet is not to extenuate the guilt of men, when he 
states that the source of blindness is God's not deigning to 
reveal his arm to them ; he only suggests that their ears are in 
vain assailed with external doctrine, because faith is a peculiar 
gift. I would wish to be informed by these teachers, whether! 
men become children of God by mere preaching, or t^y faith.' 
Surely, when John declares that all who believe in God's only 
begotten Son, are themselves made the children of God, (k) this 
is not said of all the hearers of the word in a confused mass, but 
a particular rank is assigned to believers, " which were born, 
not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, 
but of God." (/) But they say, there is a mutual agreement 
between faith and the word. This is the case whereyei_lligre| 
is anyj^ith ; but it is no new thing for the seed to fall .imongl 
thorns or in stony places ; not only because most men ai-e evi- 
dently in actual rebellion against God, but because they are not 
all endued with eyes and ears. Where, then, will be the consis- 
tency of God's calling to himself such as he knows will never 
come ? Let Augustine answer for me : " Do you wish to dis- 
pute with me ? Rather unite with me in admiration, and ex- 
claim, O the depth ! Let us both agree in fear, lest we perish 
in error." Besides, if election is, as Paul represents it, the 
parent of faith, I retort that argument upon them, that faith 
cannot be general, because election is special. For from the 
connection of causes and effects, it is easily inferred, when Paul 
says, " God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, according 
as he hath chosen us before the foundation of the world : " that 
therefore these treasures are not common to all, because God 
has chosen only such as he pleased. This is the reason why, 
in another place, he commends " the faith of God's elect ; " (m) 
that none may be supposed to acquire faith by any exertion of 
their own, but that God may retain the glory of freely illumi- 
nating the objects of his previous election. For Bernard justly 
observes, " Friends hear each one for himself when he addresses 
them, ' Fear not, little flock, for to you it is given to know the 
mystery of the kingdom of heaven. ' Who are these ? Certainly 
those whom he has foreknown and predestinated to be con- 

(i) Isaiah liii. 1. (k) John i. 12. (Z) John i. 13. (m) Titus i. 1 

VOL. II. 21 



182 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111 

formed to the image of his Son. The great and secret coun- 
sel has been revealed. The Lord knows who are his, but 
what was known to God is manifested to men. Nor does he 
favour any others with the participation of so great a mystery, 
but those particular individuals whom he foreknew, and pre- 
destinated to be his own." A little after he concludes, " The 
mercy of God is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that 
fear him ; from everlasting in predestination, to everlasting in 
/beatification ; the one knowing no beginning ; the other, no 
lend." But what necessity is there for citing the testimony of 
Bernard, since we hear from the Master's own mouth, that " no 
rnan hath seen the Father, save he_which_isj)f God," (w) which 
Hmplies, that all who aFe~not regenerated by God, are stupe- 
fied with the splendour of his countenance. FaiJjijJndeedi^ is 
properly connected with election, provided it occupies the se- 
cond place. This order is clearly expressed in these words 
of Christ : " This is the Father's will, that of all which he hath 
given me, I should lose nothing. And this is the will of him 
that sent me, that every one which believeth on the Son, may 
have everlasting life." (o) If he willed the salvation of all, he 
would give them all into the custody of his Son, and unite them 
all to his body by the sacred bond of faith. Now, it is evident, 
that faith is the peculiar pledge of his paternal love, reserved for 
his adopted children. Therefore Christ says in another place, 
" The sheep follow the shepherd, for they know his voice ; and 
a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of 
strangers." {p) Whence arises this difference, but because their 
ears are divinely penetrated ? For no man makes himself a 
sheep, but is created such by heavenly grace. Hence also the 
Lord proves the perpetual certainty and security of our salvation, 
I because it is kept by the invincible power of God. {q) There- 
I fore he concludes that unbelievers are not his sheep, because 
they are not of the number of those whom God by Isaiah 
promised to him for his future disciples, (r) Moreover, the testi- 
monies I have cited, being expressive of perseverance, are so 
many declarations of the invariable perpetuity of election. 

XI. Now, with respect to the reprobate, whom the apostle 
introduces in the same place ; as Jacob, without any merit yet 
acquired by good works, is made an object of grace, so Esau, 
while yet unpolluted by any crime, is accounted an object of 
hatred, (s) If we turn our attention to works, we insult the 
apostle, as though he saw not that which is clear to us. Now, 
that he saw none, is evident, because he expressly asserts the one 
%:> have been elected and the other rejected while they had not 



(n) John vi. 46. (p) John x. 4, 5. (r) John x. 26 
(o) John vi. 39, 40 {q) John x. 29. {s) Rom. ix. 13. 



CHAP. XXm.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. I63 

done any good or evil ; in order to prove the foundation (»f Divine 
predestination not to be in works, (t) Secondly, when he raises 
the objection whether God is unjust, he never urges, what would 
hav^) been the most absolute and obvious defence of his justice, 
that God rewarded Esau according to his wickedness ; but con-j 
tents himself with a different solution, that the reprobate are) 
raised up for this purpose, that the glory of God may be dis«| 
::)laye(! by their means. Lastly, he subjoins a concluding obser- 
vation, that *' God (lath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and 
whom he will he hardeneth." (u) You see^ how h g-aitribiites 
both tojhe mere will o£Gpd. If, therefore, we can assign no 
reason why he grants mercy to his people but because such is 
his pleasure, neither shall we find any other cause but his will 
for the reprobation of others. For when God is said to harden 
or show mercy to whom he pleases, men are taught by this 
declaration to seek no cause beside his will. 



CHAPTER XXIll. 



4. REFUTATION Or THE CALUMNIES GENERALLY, BUT UNJUSTLY, 
URGED AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE. 

When the human mind hears these things, its petulance 
breaks all restraint, and it discovers as serious and violent 
agitation as if alarmed by the sound of a martial trumpet. 
Many, indeed, as if they wished to avert odium from God, 
admit election in such a way as to deny that any one is repro- 
bated. But this is puerile and absurd, because election^itself I 
couki.not e3dst without beings opposed to re.probation. God is 
said to separate those whom he adopts to salvation. To say 
that others obtain by chance, or acquire by their own efforts, 
that which election alone confers on a few, will be worse than 
absurd. Whom God passes by, therefore, he reprobates, and 
fr»m no other cause than his determination to exclude them 
from the inheritance which he predestines for his children. 
And the petulance of men is intolerable, if it refuses to be re- 
strained by the word of God, which treats of his incomprehen- 
sible counsel, adored by angels themselves. But now we have 
heard that hardening proceeds from the Divine power and will, 
as much as mercy. Unlike the persons I have mentioned, 
Paul never strives to excu se God by^false allegations : he oi dy 

(<) Rom. ix. 11 (w) Kom. ix. 18 



164 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IU 

declares that it is unla wful for a thing formed to quarrel with 
its maker, (x) Now, how will those, who admit not that any 
are reprobated by God, evade this declaration of Christ : " Every 
plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be 
prooted up ? " (y) Upon all whom our heavenly Father has not 
deigned to plant as sacred trees in his garden, they hear de- 
struction plainly denounced. If they deny this to be a sign of 
reprobation, there is nothing so clear as to be capable of proof 
to such persons. But if they cease not their clamour, le the 
sobriety of faith be satisfied with this admonition of Paul, that 
there is no cause for quarrelling with God, if, on the one hand, 
willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, he 
endures, " with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath 
jfitted to destruction ; " and on the other, makes " known the 
riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, whom he had afore 
'prepared unto glory." (;s) Let the reader observe that, to pre- 
clude every pretext for murmurs and censures, Paul ascribes 
supreme dominion to the wrath and power of God ; because it 
is unreasonable for those deep judgments, which absorb all our 
faculties, to be called in question by us. It is a frivolous reply 
of our adversaries, that God does not wholly reject the objects 
of his long-suffering, but remains in suspense towards them, 
awaiting the possibility of their repentance ; as though Paul 
attributed patience to God, in expectation of the conversion 
of those whom he asserts to be fitted to destruction. For 
lAugustine, in expounding this passage, where power is con- 
mected with patience, justly observes, that God's power is not 
I permissive, but influential. They observe, also, that it is not 
said without meaning, that the vessels of wrath are fitted to 
destruction, but that God prepared the vessels of mercy ; since 
by this mode of expression, he ascribes and challenges to God 
the praise of salvation, and throws the blame of perdition upon 
those who by their choice procure it to themselves. But 
though I concede to them, that Paul softens the asperity of the 
former clause by the difference of phraseology, yet it is not at 
all consistent to transfer the preparation for destruction to any 
other than the secret counsel of God ; which is also asserted 
ijust before in the context, that " God raised up Pharaoh, and 
[whom he will he hardeneth." Whence it follows, that the 
icause of hardening is the secret counsel of God. This, however, 
I maintain, which is observed by Augustine that when God 
jturns wolves into sheep, he renovates them by more powerful 
erace to conquer their obduracy ; and therefore the obstinate 
/are not converted, because God exerts not that mightier grace 
(of which he is not destitute, if he chose to display it. 

(x) Rom. ix 20. (?/) Matt. xv. 13. (2) Rom. ix. 22, 23. 



CHAP. XXIII. j CHRIS;TIAN KELJ'JION. 165 

II. These things will amply suffice for persons of piety and 
modesty, who remember that they are men. But as these vir- 
ulent adversaries are not content with one species of opposition, 
we will reply to them all as occasion shall require. Foolish i 
mortals enter into many contentions with God, as though ihey! 
could arraign him to plead to their accusations. In the first' 
place they inquire, by what right the Lord is angry with hisl 
creatures who had not provoked him by any previous offence , 
for Viat to devote to destruction whom he pleases, is more 
like the caprice of a tyrant than the lawful sentence of a judge ; 
that men have reason, therefore, to expostulate with God, if 
they are predestinated to eternal death without any demerit 
of their own, merely by his sovereign will. If such thoughts 
ever enter the minds of pious men, they will be sufficiently 
enabled to break their violence by this one consideration, how) 
exceedingly presumptuous it is only to inquire into the causes j 
of the Divine will ; which is in fact, and is justly entitled to 
be, the cause of every thing that exists. For if it has any 
cause, then there must be something antecedent, on which it 
depends ; which it is impious to suppose. For the will of Godj 
is the highest rule of justice ; so that what he wills must be/ 
considered just, for this very reason, because he wills it.l 
When it is inquired, therefore, why the Lord did so, the an-j 
swer must be. Because he would. But if you go further, and, 
ask why he so determined, you are in search of something I 
greater and higher than the will of God, which can never be 
found. '^Let human temerity, therefore, desist from seeking j" 
that which is not, lest it should fail of finding that which is. jt. 
This will be a sufficient restraint to any one disposed to reason 
with reverence concerning the secrets of his God. Against 
the audaciousness of the impious, who are not afraid openly to 
rail against God, the Lord will sufficiently defend himself by 
his own justice, without any vindication by us, when, depriv- 
ing their consciences of every subterfuge, he shall convict them 
and bind them with a sense of their guilt. Yet we espouse 
not the notion of the Romish theologians concerning the ab- 
solute and arbitrary power of God, which, on account of its 
profaneness, deserves our detestation. We represent not Godp 
as lawless, who is a law to himself ; because, as Plato says, 
laws are necessary to men, who are the subjects of evil desires y 
but the will of God is not only pure from every fault, but the 
highest standard of perfection, even the law of all raws. But ** 
we deny that he is liable to be called to any account ; we deny 
also that we are proper judges, to decide on this cause accord- 
mg to our own apprehension. Wherefore, if we attempt to 
go beyond what is lawful, let us be deterred by the Psalmist, 



166 INSTITUTES OF THE [BOOK III 

who ;ells us, that God will be clear when he is judged by 
mortaJ man. (a) 

III. Thus God is able to check his enemies by silence. 
But that we may not suffer them to deride his holy name with 
impunity, he supplies us from his word with arms against 
them. Therefore, if any one attack us with such an inquiry 
as this, why God has from the beginning predestinated some 
men to death, who, not yet being brought into existence, could 
not yet deserve the sentence of death, — we will reply by ask- 
ing them, in return, what they suppose God owes to man, if he 
chooses to judge of him from his own nature. As we are all 
corrupted by sin, we must necessarily be odious to God, and 
that not from tyrannical cruelty, but in the most equitable 
estimation of justice. If all whom the Lord predestinates to 
death are in their natural condition liable to the sentence of death, 
what injustice do they complain of receiving from him? Let 
all the sons of Adam come forward ; let them all contend and 
dispute with their Creator, because by his eternal providence 
they were previously to their birth adjudged to endless misery. 
What murmur will they be able to raise against this vindication, 
when God, on the other hand, shall call them to a review of 
themselves. If they have all been taken from a corrupt mass, 
it is no wonder that they are subject to condemnation. Let 
them not, therefore, accuse God of injustice, if his eternal 
decree has destined them to death, to which they feel them- 
selves, whatever be their desire or aversion, spontaneously led 
1 forward by their own nature. Hence appeai-s the perverseness 
of their disposition to murmur, because they intentionally sup- 
press the causeof condemnation, which they are constrained 
to acknowledgeTn themselves, hoping to excuse themselves by 
charging it upon God. But though I ever so often admit 
God to be the author of it, which is perfectly correct, yet this 
does not abolish the guilt impressed upon their consciences, 
'and from time to time recurring to their view. 

y . IV. They further object. Were they not, by the decree of 
pod, antecedently predestinated to that corruption which is 
jnow stated as the cause of condemnation <' When they perish 

/in their corruption, therefore, they only suffer the punishment 
of that misery into which, in conseqi ence of his predesti- 
nation, Adam fell, and precipitated his posterity with him. Is 
he not unjust, therefore, in treating his creatures with such 

"^ cruel mockery ? I confess, indeed, that all the descendants of 
Adam fell by the Divine will into that miserable condition in 
which they are now involved ; and this is what I asserted from 
the beginning, that we must always return at last to the sove- 

ra) Psalm li. 4. 



CHAP. XXIII.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 167 

reign determination of God's will, the cause of which is hidden 
in himself. But it follows not, therefore, that God is liable to 
this reproach. For we will answer them thus in the language 
of Paul : " O man, wno art thou that repliest against God ? / 
Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it. Why hast ^ 
thou made me thus ? Hath not the potter power over the clay, 
of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour and 
another unto dishonour? " (6) They will deny this to be in 
reality any vindication of God's justice, and call it a subterfuge, 
such as is commonly resorted to by persons destitute of a suffi- 
cient defence. For what appears to be the meaning of this, 
but that God possesses power, that cannot be resisted, of doing! 
any thing whatsoever according to his pleasure ? But it is' 
very different. For what stronger reason can be alleged, than, 
when we are directed to consider who God is? How could 
any injustice be committed by him who is the Judge of the 
v.'orld ? If it is the peculiar property of the nature of God to 
do justice, then he naturally loves righteousness and hates 
iniquity. The apostle, therefore, has not resorted to sophistry, 
as if he were in danger of confutation, but has shown that the 
reason of the Divine justice is too high to be measured by a 
human standard, or comprehended by the littleness of the hu- 
man mind. The apostle, indeed, acknowledges that there is a 
depth in the Divine judgments sufficient to absorb the minds 
of all mankind, if they attempt to penetrate it. But he also 
teaches how criminal it is to reduce the works of God to such 
a law, that on failing to discover the reason of them, we pre- 
sume to censure them. It is a well known observation of Solo- 
moH, though few rightly understand it, that *' the great God,' 
that formed all things, both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth/ 
transgressors." (c) For he is proclaiming the greatness of God, 
whose will it is to punish foods and transgressors, although he 
favours them not with his Spirit. And men betray astonish- 
ing madness in desiring to comprehend immensity within the 
limits of their reason. The angels who stood in their integrity,. 
Paul calls " elect ; " {d) if their constancy rested on the Divine 
pleasure, the defection of the others argues their being for- 
saken — a fact for which no other cause can be assigned than 
the reprobation hidden in the secret counsel of God. 

V. Now, to any follower of Manes or Celestius, a calumni-\ 
ator of Divine Providence, I reply with Paul, that no account] 
ought to be given of it, for its greatness far surpasses our un-1< 
derstanding. What wonder or absurdity is there in this ? 
Would he have the Divine power so limited, as to be unable 
to execute more than his little capacity can comprehend ? I 

(ft) Rom. T 20, 'Zl (c) Prov. xxvi. 10. {d) 1 Tim. v. 21 



168 INSTITUTES OF THE [ 



BOOK III 



say, with Aug istine, that the Lord created those who, he cer- 
itainly foreknew, would fall into destruction, and that this ^vas 
actuEilly so because he willed it ; but of his will it belongs not 
to us to demand the reason, which we are incapable of com- 
prehending ; nor is it rcEisonable that the Divine will should 
be made the subject of controversy with us, which, whenever 
it is discussed, is only another name for the highest rule of 
justice. Why, then, is any question stai'ted concerning injus- 
tice, where justice is evidently conspicuous? Nor let us be 
ashamed to follow the example of Paul, and stop the mouths 
of unreasonable and wicked men in this manner, repeating the 
same answer as often as they shall dare to repeat their com- 
plaints. Who ai-e you, miserable mortals, preferring an ac- 
cusation against God, because he accommodates not the great- 
ness of his works to your ignorance ? as though they were 
necessarily wrong, because they are concealed from carnal 
view. Of the immensity of God's judgments you have the 
clearest evidences. You know they are called " a great deep." 
Now, examine your contracted intellects, whether they can 
comprehend God's secret decrees. What advantage or satis- 
faction do you gain from plunging yourselves, by your mad 
researches, into an abyss that reason itself pronounces will be 
fatal to you ? Why are you not at least restrained by some 
fear of what is contained in the history of Job and the books 
of the prophets, concerning the inconceivable wisdom and 
.terrible power of God? If your mind is disturbed, embrace 
I without reluctance the advice of Augustine : " You, a man, 
expect an answer from me, who am cilso a man. Let us, there- 
[fore, both hear him, who says, O man, who art thou ? Faith - 
iful ignorance is better than ^resimiptuoiisJuimKlfidge. Seejc 
! mem sJTyoTrwIll find nothijig^Vut punishment. O the depth ! 
Peter denies ; the tliief believes ; O the'Septh ! Do you seek a 
reason ? I will tremble at the depth. Do you reason ? I will 
wonder. Do you dispute ? I will believe. I see the depth, 
I reach not the bottom. Paul rested, because he found admira- 
tion. He calls the judgments of God unsearchable ; and are 
you come to scrutinize them ? He says, his ways are past 
finding out ; and are you come to investigate them ? " We 
shall do no good by proceeding any further ; it will not satisfy 
their petulance ; and the Lord needs no other defence than 
what he has employed by his Spirit, speaking by the mouth 
of Paul ; and we for gfij^tospeak well when_we cease to speak 
with God. ^ 

. VL Impiety produces also a second objection, which directly 
tends, not so much to the crimination of God, as to the vindi- 
' cation of the sinner ; though the sinner whom God condemns 
pannoiPBe' justified without the disgrace of the Judge. For 



CHAP. XXIII.] 



CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 



169 



this is their pr <fane complaint, Whj should God impute as_,a 
fault to man those things which were rendered nacessary by 
his predestination ? IVTTaT should they do ? Should they re- j 
sist his decrees ? This would be vain, for it would be impossi- ] 
ble. Therefore they are not justly jjunished for those things of 
which God's predestination is the principal cause. Here I shall 
refrain from the defence commonly resorted to by ecclesiastical 
writers, that the foreknowledge of God prevents not man from 
being considered as a sinner, since God foresees man's evils, 
not his own. For then the cavil would not stop here ; it 
would rather be urged, that still God might, if he would, have 
provided against the evils he foresaw, and that not having 
done this, he created man expressly to this end, that he might 
so conduct himself in the world ; but if, by the Divine Provi- 
dence, man was created in such a state as afterwards to do 
whatever he actually does, he ought not to be charged with 
guilt for things which he cannot avoid, and to which the will 
of God constrains him. Let us see, then, how this difficulty 
should be solved. In the first place, the declaration of Solo-| 
mon ought to be universally admitted, that " the Lord hathV 
made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day I 
of evil." (e) Observe ; all things being at God's disposal, and 
the decision of salvation or death belonging to him, he orders 
all things by his counsel and decree in such a manner, that 
some men are born devoted from the womb to certain death, 
that his name may be glorified in their destruction. If any 
one pleads, that no necessity was imposed on them by the 
providence of God, but rather that they were created by him 
in such a state in consequence of his foresight of their future 
depravity, — it will amount to nothing. The old writers used, 
indeed, to adopt this solution, though not without some degree 
of hesitation But the schoolmen satisfy themselves with it, 
as though it admitted of no opposition. I will readily grant,) 
indeed, that mere foreknowledge lays no necessity on thej 
creatures, though this is not universally admitted ; for there are! 
some who maintain it to be the actual cause of what comes to. 
pass. But Valla, a man otherwise not much versed in theology, 
appears to me to have discovered superior acuteness and judi- 
ciousness, by showing that this controversy is unnecessary, 
because both life and death are acts of God's will, rather than 
of his foreknowledge. If God simply foresaw the fates of men, 
and did not also dispose and fix them by his determination, 
there would be room to agitate the question, whether his pro- 
vidence or foresight rendered them at all necessary. But since 
he foresees future events only in consequeii ce of his d ectee 



22 



(e) Prov. xvi. 4. 



170 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111. 

that they shall happen, it is useless to contend about fore- 
knowledge, while it is evident that all things come to pass 
rather by ordination and decree. 

VII. They say it is nowhere declared in express terms, that 
God decreed Adam should perish by his defection ; as though 
the same God, whom the Scripture represents as doing whatevei 
he pleases, created the noblest of his creatures without any 
determinate end. They maintain, that he was possessed of 
free choice, that he might be the author of his own fate, but 
that God decreed nothing more than to treat him according to 
his desert. If so weak a scheme as this be received, what will 
become of Xxniilg omnipotence, by which he governs all things 
.according to his secret counsel, independently of every person 
w thing besides ? But whether they wish it or dread it, pre- 
destination exhibits itself in Adam's posterity. For the loss 
of satvaTion by the whole race through the guilt of one parent, 
was an event that did not happen by nature. What prevents 
their acknowledging concerning one man, what they reluc- 
tantly grant concerning the whole species ? Why should they 
lose their labour in sophistical evasions ? The Scripture pro- 
claims, that all men were, in the person of their father, sen- 
tenced to eternal death. This, not being attributable to na- 
ture, it is evident must have proceeded from the wonderful 
/ counsel of God. The perplexity and hesitation discovered 
at trifles by these pious defenders of the justice of God, n;id 
their facility in overcoming great difficulties, are truly absurd. 
I inquire again, how it came to pass that the fall of Adam, in- 
dependent of any remedy, should involve so many nations 
with their infant children in eternal death, but because such 
was the will of God. Their tongues, so loquacious on every 
other point, must here be struck dumb. It is^an_awfLil decree ^ 
I confess; but no one can deny that God foreknew ^lie future 
final fate of man before he created him, and that he did fore- 
know it because it was appointed by his own decree. If any 
one Here attacks God's foreknowledge, he rashly and incon- 
siderately stumbles. For what ground of accusation is there 
against the heavenly Judge for not being ignorant of futurity ? 
If there is any just or plausible complaint, it lies against pre- 
destination. \Nor should it be thought absurd to affirm, that 
God not only toFesawnTe fall of the first man, and the ruin of 
his posterity in him, but also arranged all by the determination 
of his own will. For as it belongs to his wisdom to foreknow 
1 I *| every thing future, so it belongs to his power to rule and govern 
I all things by his hand. And this question also, as well as 
others, is judiciously discussed by Augustine. " We most 
wholesomely confess, what we most rightly believe, that the 
God and Lord of all things, who created every thing very 



CHAP. XXIII.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 17 1 

good, and foiekiiew that evil would arise out of good, and 
knew that it was more suitable to his almighty goodness to 
bring good out of evil than not to suffer evil to exist, ordained 
the life of angels and men in such a manner as to exhibit in 
it, first, what free-will was capable of doing, and afterwards, 
what could be effected by the blessings of his grace, and the 
sentence of his justice." 

VIII. Here they recur to the distinction between will and ) 
permissioji, and insist that God permits the destructioiTof the j 
impious, but does not will it. But wfiat reason shall we assign 
for his permittTngTt, but because it is his will ? It is not pro- 
bable, however, that man procured his own destruction by the 
mere permission, and without any appointment, of God ; as 
though God had not determined what he would choose to be 
the condition of the principal of his creatures. I shall not hesi-i 
tate, therefore, to confess plainly with Augustine, "that the} 
will of God is the necessity of things, and that what he has/ 
willed will necessarily come to pass ; as those things are really! 
about to happen which he has foreseen." Now, if either Pela-i 
gians, or Manichaeans, or Anabaptists, or Epicureans, (for we 
are concerned with these four sects on this argument,) in ex- 
cuse for themselves and the impious, plead the necessity with 
which they are bound by God's predestination, — they allege 
nothing applicable to the caso. For if predestination is no 
other than a dispensation of Divine justice, — mysterious in- 
deed, but liable to no blame, — since it is certain they were 
not unworthy of being predestinated to that fate, it is equally 
certain, that the destruction they in9ur by predestination is 
consistent with the strictest justice. (^BesideSj^ their perdition / 
depends on the Divine predestination in such a manner, that I 
the cause and matter of it are found in themselves. For thai 
first man fell because the Lord had determined it was so 
expedient. The reason of this determination is unknown to 
us. Yet it is certain that he determined thus, only because he 
foresaw it would tend to the just illustration of the glory of 
his name. Whenever you hear the glory of God mentioned, | 
think of his justice. For what deserves praise must be just. 
Man fails^^therefoi^ a.ccord^^ to_yie_a£poiiUm^rU of^JMYiue 
Providence j but he falls l>yi_his own^faujt. The Lord had a 
fittle before pronounced " every thing that he had made " to 
be " very good." Whence, then, comes the depravity of man 
to revolt from his God? Lest it should be thought to come/ 
from creation, God had approved and commended what had) 
proceeded from himself By his own wickedness, therefore^ 
he corrupted the nature he had received pure from the Lord, 
and by his fall he drew all his posterity with him into destrac- 
tion. Whereforfi- latins rather contemplate the_evident cause 



)/.' 



172 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK MJ 

of condemnation, which is nearer to us in the corrupt nature 
of mankind, than search after a hidden and altogether incom- 
prehensible one in the predestination of God. And we should 
fee' no reluctance to submit our understanding to the infinite 
wisdom of God, so far as to acquiesce in its many mysteries. 
*To be ignorant of things which it is neither possible nor lavv- 
fuflo know, is to be learned : an eagerness to know them, is 
a species of madness.** 

IX. Some one perhaps will say, that I have not yet adduced 
a sufficient answer to that sacrilegious excuse. I confess it is 
impossible ever wholly to prevent the petulance and murmurs 
of impiety ; yet I think I have said what should suffice to re- 
niove not only all just ground, but every plausible pretext, for 
Dbjection. The reprobate wish to be thoug.ht excusable m 
sinning, because they cannot avoid a necessity of sinniog ; 
especially since this necessity is laid upon them 1)y the ordina- 
tion of God. But we deny this to be a just excuse ; because 
't"he ordination of God, by which they complain that they are 
idestined to destruction, is guided by equity, unknown indeed 
\to us, but indubitably certain. Whence we conclude, that they 

suita^fn'rio misery that is not inflicted upon them by tjie most 
righteous judgment of God. In the next place, we maintain 
that they act preposterously, who, in seeking for the origin of 
their condemnation, direct their views to the secret recesses 
of the Divine counsel, and overlook the ciMTuptiQii_of_j]ature, 

' which is its real source. The testimony God gives to his cre- 
ation prevents their imputing it to him. Jor ^ough, by the 
pternal providence of God, man was created to that misery to 
jwhich he is subject, yet the ground of it he has derived from 
^limselfjjiot from God ; since he is thus ruined solely in con- 

j sequence of his having degenerated from the pure creation of 

iGod to vicious and impure depravity. 

X. The doctrine of God's predestination is calumniated by 
its adversaries, as involving a third absurdity. For when we 
attribute it solely to the determination of the Divine will, that 
those whom God admits to be heirs of his kingdom are exempt- 
ed from the universal destruction, from this they infer, thatjifiu 
is a respecter of persons, which the Scripture unifornily denies ; 

What, therefore, either the Scripture is inconsistent with itself, 
lor in the election of God^jegard is had to merits. In the first 
I place, the Scripture denies that God is a respecter of persons, 
\in a different sense from that in which they understand it ; for 
by the word joersow, it signil&es not a man, but those things in 
a man, which, being conspicuous to the eyes, usually con- 
ciliate favour, honour, and dignity, or attract hatred, contempt, 
and disgrace. Such are riches, wealth, power, nobility, magis- 
tracy, country, elegance of form, on the one hand ; and on the 



CHAP. XXIII.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 1 7^!^ 

Other hand, poverty, necessity, ignoble birth, slovenliness, con- 
tempt, and the like. Thus Peter and Paul declare that God 
is not a respecter of persons, because he makes no difference 
between the Jew and Greek, to reject one and receive the 
other, merely on account of his nation. (/) So James uses 
the same language when he means to assert, that God in his 
judgment pays no regard to riches, (g) And Paul, in another 
place, declares, that in judging, God has no respect to liberty or 
bondage, (/i) There will, therefore, be no contradiction in our 
affirming, that according to the good pleasure of his will, God 
chooses whom he will as his children, irrespective of all merit, 
while he rejects and reprobates others. Yet, for the sake of 
further satisfaction, the matter may be explained in the follow- 
ing manner: They ask how it happens, that of two persons 
distinguished from each other by no merit, God, in his election, 
leaves one and takes another. 1, on the other hand, ask them, 
whether they suppose him that is taken to possess any thing 
that can attract the favour of God. If they confess that he has 
not, as indeed they must, it will follow, that God looks not at 
man, but derives his motive to favour him from his own good-' 
ness. God's election of one man, therefore, while he rejects; 
another, proceeds not from any respect of man, but solely from 
his own mercy ; which may freely display and exert itself 
wherever and whenever it pleases. For we have elsewhere 
seen also that, from the beginning, not many noble, or wise, or 
honourable were called, («) that God might humble the pride 
of flesh ; so far is his favour from being confined to persons. 

XI. Wherefore some people falsely and wickedly charge 
God with a violation of equal justice, because, in his predes- 
tination, he observes not the same uniform course of proceeding 
towards all. If he finds all guilty, they say, let him punish all 
alike ; if innocent, let him withhold the rigour of justice from all. 
But they deal with him just as if either mercy were forbidden 
him, or, when he chooses^ toshow mercy, he were constrained 
wholly to renounce justice. What is it that they require i 
If all are~guilty, that they shall all sufier the same punishment. 
We confess the guilt to be common, but we say, that some are 
relieved by Divine mercy. Thej; say, Let it reheve^ all. But 
we reply, Justice requires that he shoiild Jike wjse sho^Tiirn- 
self to be a just judge in the infliction^f jjiinishment. "WTien 
they otject to this, wHaFis it but attempting to deprive God of 
the opportunity to manifest his mercy, or to grant it to him, at 
least, on the condition that he wholly abandon his justice ? 
Wherefore there is the greatest propriety in these observations 
of Augustine : " The whole mass of mankind having fallen into 

(/) Acts X. 34. Rom. ii. 11. Gal. iii. 28. (A) Col. iii. 25. Eph. xi. 9. 

(g) James ii. 5. (*) 1 Cor. i. 26 



174 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

condemnation in the first man, the vessels that are formed from 
it to honour, are not vessels of personal righteousness, but of 
Divine mercy ; and the formation of others to dishonour, is tc 
be attributed, not to iniquity, but to the Divine decree," &c. 
IWhile God rewards those whom he rejects with deserved punish- 
Inient, and to those whom he calls, freely gives undeserved grace. 
Ilie is liable to no accusation, but may be compared to a creditor, 
/who has power to release one, and enforce his demandson another. 
jThe Lord, therefore, may give grace to whom he will, because 
he is merciful, and yet not give it to all, because he is a just 
'judge ; may manifest his free grace, by giving to some what 
they never deserve, while, by not giving to all, he declares the 
•demerit of all. For when Paul says, that " God hath con- 
Icluded all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all," (1) 
/it must, at the same time, be added, that he is debtor to none ; 
,for no man " hath first given to him," to entitle him to demand 
\a recompense, (m) 

XII. Another argument often urged to overthrow predes- 
itination is, that its establishment would destroy all solicitude 
land exertion for rectitude of conduct. For who can hear, 
they say, that either life or death is appointed for him by God's 
eternal and immutable decree, without immediately concluding 
that it is of no importance how he conducts himself; since no 
action of his can in any respect either impede or promote the 
predestination of God ? Thus all will abandon themselves to 
despair, and run into every excess to which their licentious 
propensities may lead them. And truly this objection is not 
altogether destitute of truth ; for there are many impure persons 
who bespatter the doctrine of predestination with these vile blas- 
phemies, and with this pretext elude all admonitions and re- 
proofs : God knows what he has determined to do with us : 
if he has decreed our salvation, he will bring us to it in his 
own time ; if he has destined us to death, it will be in vain for 
us to strive against it. But the Scripture, while it inculcates 
superior awe and reverence of mind in the consideration of so 
great a mystery, instructs the godly in a very different con- 
clusion, and fully refutes the wicked and unreasonable in- 
ferences of these persons. For the design of what it contains 
[respecting predestination is, not that, being excited to presump- 
I tion, we may attempt, with nefarious temerity, to scrutinize the 
1 inaccessible secrets of God, but rather that, being humbled and 
dejected, we may learn to tremble at his justice and admire his 
' mercy. At this object believers will aim. But the impure 
cavils of the wicked are justly restrained by Paul. They 
profess to go on securely in their vices ; because if they are of 
the number of the elect, such conduct will not prevent theii 

(I) Gal. iji. 2'i. Rom. xi. 32. (m) Rom. xi. 35 



CHAP XXIIT.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 1 75 

being finally brought into life. But Paul declares the end of 
our election to be, tha/ we may lead a holy and blameless life, (n) 
If the object of election be holiness of life, it should rather awa- 
ken and stimulate us to a cheerful practice of it, than be used as 
a pretext for slothfulness. But how inconsistent is it to cease 
from the practice of virtue because election is sufficient to sal- 
vatioUj wjiile the end^ proposed in election is our diligent 
performance of virtuous actions ! Away, then, with such cor- 
rupt and sacrilegious perversions of the whole order of election. 
They carry their blasphemies much further, by asserting, that 
any one who is reprobated by God will labour to no purpose if 
he endeavour to approve himself to him by innocence and in- 
tegrity of life ; but here they are convicted of a most impudent 
falsehood. For whence could such exertion originate out from 
election ? Whoever are of the number of the reprobate, being 
vessels made to dishonour, cease not to provoke the Divine 
wrath against them by continual transgressions, and to confirm 
by evident proofs the judgment of God already denounced 
against them ; so that their striving with him in vain is what 
can never happen. 

XIII. This doctrine is maliciously and impudently calum- 
niated by others, as subversive of all exhortations to piety of 
life. This formerly brought great odium upon Augustine, which 
he removed by his Treatise on Correction and Grace, addressed 
to Valentine, the perusal of which will easily satisfy all pious 
and teachable persons. Yet I will touch on a few things, which 
I hope will convince such as are honest and not contentious. 
How openly^and lo udly gratu itous election was preached^by 
PauljWe have already_seen.;._S[aSihe therefore cold in admoni- 
tions and exhortations ? Let these good zealots compare his vehe- 
mence with theirs ; theirs will be found ice itself in comparison 
with his incredible fervour. And certainly every scruple is re- 
moved by this principle, that " God hath not called us to unclean- 
ness, but that every one should know how to possess his \essel| 
in sanctification and honour ; " (o) and again, that " we are his 
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which 
God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them."(jo) 
Indeed, a slight acquaintance with Paul will enable any one to 
understand, without tedious arguments, how easily he recon- 
ciles things which they pretend to be repugnant to each other. 
Christ commands men to believe in him. Yet his limitation is 
neither false nor contrary to his command, when he says, " No 
man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my 
Father." (^f) Let preaching therefor e have its couig e__to_bririg 

(n) Ephes. i. 4. (p) Ephes. ii. IC. 

(o) 1 rhess. iv. 4, 7. (q) John vi. 65. 



176 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOS. ili 

men to faith^aud by a continual progress to promote their jner- 
severance. Nor let the knowledge of predestination be pre- 
vented, that the obedient may not be proud as of any thing of 
their own, but may glory in the Lord. Christ had some 
particular meaning in saying, " Who hath ears to hear, let him 
hear."(r) Therefore when we exhort and preach, persons en- 
dued with ears readily obey ; and those who are destitute of 
them exhibit an accomplishment of the Scripture, that hearing 
they hear not. (s) " But why (says Augustine) should some 
have ears, and others not ? ' Who hath known the mind of the 
Lord ? ' (0 Must that which is evident be denied, because that 
which is concealed cannot be comprehended ? " These obser- 
vations I have faithfully borrowed from Augustine ; but as his 
words will perhaps have more authority than mine, I will 
proceed to an exact quotation of them. " If, on hearing this, 
some persons become torpid and slothful, and exchanging labour 
for lawless desire, pursue the various objects of concupiscence, 
must what is declared concerning the foreknowledge of God be 
therefore accounted false ? If God foreknew that they would 
be good, will they not be so, in whatever wickedness they now 
live ? and if he foreknew that they would be wicked, will they 
not be so, in whatever goodness they now appear ? Are these, 
then, sufficient causes why the truths which are declared con- 
cerning the foreknowledge of God should be either denied or 
passed over in silence ? especially when the consequence of 
silence respecting these would be the adoption of other errors. 
The reason of concealing the truth (he says) is one thing, and 
the necessity of declaring it is another. It would be tedious 
to inquire after all the reasons for passing the truth over in 
silence ; but this is one of them ; lest those who understand it'N 
not should become worse, while we wish to make those who un- 
derstand it better informed ; who, indeed, are not made wiser by 
our declaring any such thing, nor are they rendered worse. But 
since the truth is of such a nature, that when we speak of it, he 
becomes worse who cannot understand it, and when we are silent 
about it, he who can understand it becomes worse, — what do 
we think ought to be done ? Should not the truth rather be 
spoken, that he who is capable may understand it, than buried 
in silence ; the consequence of which would be, not only that 
neither would know it, but even the more intelligent of the two 
would become worse, who, if he heard and understood it, would 
also teach it to many others ? And we are unwilling to say what 
we are authorized to say by the testimony of Scripture. For' 
ve are afraid, indeed, lest by speaking we may offend him who 
"annot understand, but are not afraid lest m consequencts of oui 

(r) Matt , xiii. 9 («) Isaiah vi. 9 {O Rom. xi. 34. 



CHAP. XXIII.] CHRISTIAN KELIGION. 177 

silence, he who is capable of understanding the truth may be 
deceived by falsehood." And condensing this sentiment after- 
wards into a smaller compass, he places it in a still stronger 
light. " Wherefore, if the apostles and the succeeding teachers"] 
of the Church both piously treated of God's eternal election,' 
and held believers under the discipline of a pious life, what 
reason have these our opponents, when silenced by the invin- 
cible force of truth, to suppose themselves right in maintaining 
that what is spokenof predestination, although it be true, ought 
not to be preached to the people ? But it must by all means 
be preached, that he who has ears to hear may hear. But who 
has them, unless he receives them from him who has promised 
to bestow them ? Certainly he who receives not may reject, 
provided he who receives, takes and drinks, drinks and lives. 
For as piety must be preached that God may be rightly wor- 
shipped, so also must predestination, that he who has ears to 
hear of the grace of God, may glory in God, and not in himself. 'U 
XIV. And yet, being peculiarly desirous of edification, that 
holy man regulates his mode of teaching the truth, so that 
offence may as far as possible be prudently avoided. For he 
suggests that whatever is asserted with truth may also be de- 
h'vered in a suitable manner. If any one address the people in 
such a way as this, If you believe not. it is because you are by 
a Divine decree already destined to destruction, — he not only ) 
cherishes slothfulness, but even encourages wickedness. If any 
one extend the declaration to the future, that they who hear 
will never believe because they are reprobated, — this would be 
rather imprecation than instruction. Such persons, therefore, as 
foolish teachers, or inauspicious, ominous prophets, Augustine 
charges to depart from the Church. In another place, indeed, 
he justly maintains, " that a man then profits by correction, when 
he, who causes whom he pleases to profit even without correc- 
tion, compassionates and assists. But why some in one way, 
and some in another? Far be it from us to ascribe the choice 
to the clay instead of the potter." Again afterwards : " When 
men are either introduced or restored into the way of right- 
eousness by correction, who works salvation in their hearts, 
but he who gives the increase, whoever plants and waters? 
he whose determination to save is not resisted by any free- 
will of man. It is beyond all doubt, therefore, that the will of 
God, who has done whatever he has pleased in heaven and in 
earth, and who has done even things that are yet future, cannot 
possibly be resisted by the will of man, so as to prevent the 
execution of his purposes ; since he controls the wills of men 
according to his pleasure." Again : " When he designs to bring 
men to himself, does he bind them by corporeal bonds ? He acts 
inwardly ; he inwardly seizes their hearts ; he inwardly moves 
VOL. II. 23 



178 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

their hearts, and draws them by their wills, which he has 
wrought in them." But he immediately subjoins, what must 
by no means be omitted ; " that because we know not who 
belongs, or does not belong, to the number of the predestinated, 
it becomes us affectionately to desire the salvation of all. The 
consequence will be, that whomsoever we meet we shall en- 
deavour to make him a partaker of peace. But our peace shall 
rest upon the sons of peace. On our part, therefore, salutary 
and severe reproof, like a medicine, must be administered to 
all, that they may neither perish themselves nor destroy others ; 
but it will be the province of God to render it useful to them 
whom he had foreknown and predestinated." 



-V 



CHAPTER XXIY. 



ELECTION CONFIRMED BY THE DIVINE CALL. THE DESTINED 
DESTRUCTION OF THE REPROBATE PROCURED BY THEM- 
SELVES. 

But, in order to a further elucidation of the subject, it is ne- 
cessary to treat of the calling of the elect, and of the blinding 
and hardening of the impious. On the former I have already 
made a few observations, Avith a view to refute the error of 
those who suppose the generality of the promises to put all 
mankind on an equality. But the discriminating election of 
God, which is otherwise concealed witEm himself, he mamTests 
only by his calling, which may therefore with propriety be termed 
the testification or evidence of it. " For whom he did fore- 
know, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of 
his Son. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also 
called; and whom he called, them he also justified," in order 
to their eventual glorification, (u) Though by choosing his 
people, the Lord has adopted them as his children, yet we see 
that they enter not on the possession of so great a blessing till 
they are called ; on the other hand, as soon as they are called, 
they immediately enjoy some communication of his election. 
On this account Paul calls the Spirit received by them, both 
"the Spirit of adoption, and the seal and earnest of the future 
inh(iritance ; " (x) because, by his testimony, he confirms and 
seals to their hearts the certainty of their future adoption. For 
though the preaching of the gospel is a stream from the source 

IH) Rom. viii. 29, 30. (x) Rom. viii. 15, 16. Ephes. i. 13 14. 



CHAP. XXIV.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 179 

of election, yet, being common also to the reprobate, it would of 
itself be no solid proof of it. For God effectually teaches his 
elect, ro bring them to faith, as we have already cited from the 
words of Christ : "He which is of God, he," and he alone, 
" hath seen the Father." {y) Again: '' 1 have manifested thy 
name unto the men which thou gavest me." {z) For he says 
in another place, " No man can come to me, except the Father 
draw him." (a) This passage is judiciously explained by Au- 
gustine in the following words : "If, according to the declaration 
of truth, every one that has learned comes, whosoever comes 
not, certainly has not learned. It does not necessarily follow 
that he who can come actually comes, unless he has both 
willed and done it ; but every one that has learned of the Fa- 
ther, not only can come, but also actually comes ; where there 
is an immediate union of the advantage of possibility, the in- 
clination of the will, and the consequent action." In another 
place he is still clearer : " Every one that hath heard and learned 
of the Father, cometh unto me. Is not this saying, There is 
no one that hears and learns of the Father, and comes not unto 
me ? For if every one that has heard and learned of the Father 
comes, certainly every one that comes not has neither heard nor 
learned of the Father ; for if he had heard and learned, he would 
come. Very remote from carnal observation is this school, in 
which men hear and learn of the Father to come to the Son,' 
Just after he says, " This grace, which is secretly communica- 
ted to the hearts of men, is received by no hard heart ; for th( 
first object of its communication is, that hardness of heart may 
be taken away. When the Father is heard within therefore, 
he takes away the heart of stone, and gives a heart of flesh. 
For thus he forms children of promise and vessels of mercy 
whom he has prepared for glory. Why, then, does he not 
teach all, that they may come to Christ, but because all whom 
he teaches, he teaches in mercy ? but whom he teaches not, he 
teaches not in judgment ; for he hath mercy on whom he will 
have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Those whom 
God has chosen, therefore, he designates as his children, and de- 
termines himself to be their Father. By calling, he introduces 
them into his family, and unites them to himself, that they may 
be one. By connecting calling with election, the Scripture 
evidently suggests that nothing is requisite to it but the free 
mercy of God. For if we inquire whom he calls, and for what 
reason, the answer is, those whom he had elected. But when 
we come to election, we see nothing but mercy on every side. 
And so that observation of Paul is very applicable here — "It is 
not of him that wiileth, nor of him that runneth, but of God 
that showeth mercy ;" but not as it is commonly understood 

(y) John vi. 46. (z) John xvii. 6 (a) John vi. 44. 



180 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111 

by those who make a distribution between the grace of God,^ 
and the will and exertion of man. For they say. that human ' 
desires and endeavours have no efficacy of themselves, unless 
they are rendered successful by the grace of God ; but main- 
tain that, with the assistance of his blessing, these things 
have also their share in procuring salvation. To refute their 
cavil, I prefer Augustine's words to my own. " If the apostle 
only meant that it is not of him that wills, or of him that 
runs, without the assistance of the merciful Lord, we may 
retort the converse proposition, that it is not of mercy alone 
without the assistance of willing and running." If this be mani- 
festly impious, we may be certain that the apostle ascribes every 
thing to the Lord's mercy, and leaves nothing to our wills or 
exertions. This was the opinion of that holy man. Nor is the 
least regard due to their paltry sophism, that Paul would not 
have expressed himself so, if we had no exertion or will. For 
he considered not what was in man ; but seeing some persons 
attribute salvation partly to human industry, he simply con- 
demned their error in the former part of the sentence, and in 
the latter, vindicated the claim of Divine mercy to the whole 
accomplishment of salvation. And what do the prophets, but 
perpetually proclaim the gratuitous calling of God ? 

II. This point is further demonstrated by the very nature 
and dispensation of calling, which consists not in the mere 
preaching of the word, but in the acconipanying illumination 
of the Spirit. To whom God offers his word, we are inforrned 
in the prophet : '' I am sought of them that asked not for me : 
I am found of them that sought me not : I said, Behold me, 
behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name." (b) 
And lest the Jews should suppose that this clemency ex- 
tended only to the Gentiles, he recalls to their remembrance 
the situation from which he took their father Abraham, when 
he deigned to draw him to himself; that was from the midst 
of idolatry, in which he and all his family were sunk, (c) 
When he first shines upon the undeserving with the light of 
his word, he thereby exhibits a most brilliant specimen of his 
free goodness. Here, then, the infinite goodness of God is dis- 
played, but not to the salvation of all ; for heavier judgment 
•awaits the reprobate, because they reject the testimony of Di- 
vine love. And God also, to manifest his glory, withdraws 
from them the efficacious influence of his Spirit. This inter- 
nal call, therefore, is a pledge of salvation, which cannot possibly 
deceive. To this purpose is that passage of John — " Hereby 
we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath 
given us " (d) And lest the flesh should glory in having an- 
swered at least to his call, and accepted his free offers, he 

(b) Isaiah Ixv. 1. (c) Joshua xxiv. 2, 3. (d) 1 John iii. 24. 



CHAP. XXIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 181 

affirms that men have no ears to hear, or eyes to see, but such 
as he has formed ; and that he acts in this, not according to 
individual gratitude, but according to his own election. Of this 
fact Luke gives us an eminent example, where Jews and Gentiles 
in common heard the preaching of Paul and Barnabas. Though! 
they were all instructed on that occasion with the same dis-' 
course, it is narrated that "as many as were ordained to eternal 
life, behoved." (e) With what face, then, can we deny the 
freeness of calling, in which election reigns alone, even to 
the last? 

III. Here two errors are to be avoided. For some suppose 
man to be a cooperator with God, so that the validity of elec- 
tion depends on his consent ; thus, according to them, the will 
of man is superior to the counsel of God. As though the 
Scripture taught, that we are only given an ability to believe, 
and not fiaith itself. Others, not thus enervating the grace of 
the Holy Spirit, yet induced by I know not what mode of rea- 
soning, suspend election on that which is subsequent to it ; as 
though it were doubtful and ineffectual till it is confirmed by 
Jaith. . That this is its confirmation to us is very clear ; that it 
is the manifestation of God's secret coimsel before concealed, we 
have already seen ; but all that we are to understand by this, is 
that what was before unknown is verified, and as it were ratified 
with a seal. But it is contrary to the truth to assert, that elec- 
tion has no- efficacy till after we have embraced the gospel, 
and that this circumstance gives it all its energy. The cer- 
tainty of it, indeed, we are to seek here ; for if we attempt to 
penetrate to the eternal decree of God, we shall be ingulfed in 
the profound abyss. But when God has discovered it to us, 
we must ascend to loftier heights, that the cause may not be 
lost in the effect. For what can be more absurd and inconsis- 
tent, when the Scripture teaches that we are illuminated 
according as God has chosen us, than that our eyes should be so 
dazzled with the blaze of this light as to refuse to contemplate 
election ? At the same time I admit that, in order to attain an 
assurance of our salvation, we ought to begin with the word, 
and that with it our confidence ought to be satisfied, so as to 
call upon God as our Father. For some persons, to obtain 
certainty respecting the counsel of God, " which is nigh unto 
us, in our mouth and in our heart," (/) preposterously wish 
to soar above the clouds. Such temerity, therefore, should be 
restrained by the sobriety of faith, that we may be satisfied 
with the testimony of God in his external word respecting his 
secret grace ; only the channel, which conveys to us such a 
copious stream to satisfy our thirst, must not deprive the foun 
tain-head of the honour which belongs to it. 

(e) Acts xiii. 48 (/) Deut. xxx. 14. 



i 82 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

IV. As it is erroneous, therefore, to suspend the efficacy of 
election upon the faith of the gospel, by which we discovei 
our interest in election, so we shall observe the best order, if, 
in seeking an assurance of our election, we confine our atten- 
tion to those subsequent signs which are certain attestations of 

jit. Satan never attacks believers with a more grievous or 

(dangerous temptation, than when he disquiets them with 
doubts of their election, and stimulates to an improper desire 

'of seeking it in a wrong way. I call it seeking in a wrong 
way, when miserable man endeavours to force his way into the 
secret recesses of Divine wisdom, and to penetrate even to the 
Highest eternity, that he may discover what is determined con- 
cerning him at the tribunal of God. Then he precipitates 
himself to be absorbed in the profound of an unfathomable 
gulf; then he entangles himself in numberless and inextricable 
snares ; then he sinks himself in an abyss of total darkness. For 
It is right that the folly of the human mind should be thus 
punished with horrible destruction, when it attempts by its own 
ability to rise to the summit of Divine wisdom. This tempta- 
tion is the more fatal, because there is no other to which men 
in general have a stronger propensity. For there is scarcely a 
person to be found, whose mind is not sometimes struck with 
this thought — Whence can you obtain salvation but from the 
election of God ? And what revelation have you received of 
election ? If this has once impressed a man, it either perpetu- 
ally excruciates the unhappy being with dreadful torments, 
or altogether stupefies him with astonishment. Indeed," 1. 
should desire no stronger argument to prove how extremely 
erroneous the conceptions of such persons are respecting pre- 
destination, than experience itself; since no error can affect 
the mind, more pestilent than such as disturbs the conscience, 
and destroys its peace and tranquillity towards God. There- 
fore, if we dread shipwreck, let us anxiously beware of this 
rock, on which none ever strike without being destroyed. 
But though the discussion of predestination may be compared 
to a dangerous ocean, yet, in traversing over it, the navigation 
is safe and serene, and I will also add pleasant, unless any one 
freely wishes to expose himself to danger. For as those who, 
in order to gain an assurance of their election, examine into 
the eternal counsel of God without the word, plunge them- 
selves into a fatal abyss, so they who investigate it in a regular 
and orderly manner, as it is contained in the word, derive 

.from such inquiry the benefit of peculiar consolation. Let this, 
then, be our way of inquiry ; to begin and end with the calling 
of God. Though this prevents not believers from perceiv- 
mg, that the blessings they daily receive from the hand of God 



CHAP. XXIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 183 

descend from that secret adoption ; as Isaiah introduces them, 
saying, " Thou hast done wonderful things ; thy counsels of 
old are faithfulness and truth ; " (g) for by adoption, as by a 
token, God chooses to confirm to us all that we are permitted 
to know of his counsel. Lest this should be thought a weak 
testimony, let us consider how much clearness and certainty it 
affords us. Bernard has some pertinent observations or. thi? 
subject. After speaking of the reprobate, he says, " The couiv 
sel of God stands, the sentence of peace stands, respecting thern 
who fear him, concealing their faults and rewarding their 
virtues ; so that to them, not only good things, but evil ones 
also, cooperate for good. Who shall lay any thing to the 
charge of God's elect ? It is sufficient for me, for all righteous- 
ness, to possess his favour alone, against whom alone I have 
sinned. All that he has decreed not to impute to me, is just ^ 
as if it had never been." And a little after: " O place of true f 
rest, which I might not improperly call a bed-chamber, in 
which God is viewed, not as disturbed with anger, or filled 
with care, but where his will is proved to be good, and accept- 
able, and perfect. This view is not terrifying, but soothing ; 
it excites no restless curiosity, but allays it : it fatigues not the 
senses, but tranquillizes them. Here true rest is enjoyed. 
A tranquil God tranquillizes all things ; and to behold rest, is 
to enjoy repose." 

V. In the first place, if we seek the fatherly clemency and 
propitious heart of God, our eyes must be directed to Christ, in 
whom alone the Father fs well pleased, (h) If we seek salva- 
tion, life, and the immortality of the heavenly kingdom, re- 
course must be had to no other ; for he alone is the Fountain 
of life, the Anchor of salvation, and the Heir of the kingdom 
of heaven. Now, what is the end of election, but that, being 
adopted as children by our heavenly Father, we may by his 
favour obtain salvation and immortality ? Consider and inves- 
tigate it as much as you please, you will not find its ultimate 
scope extend beyond this. The persons, therefore, whom God 
has adopted as his children, he is said to have chosen, not in 
themselves, but inJIJhjist ; because it was impossible for him 
to love them, except in him; or to honour them with the) 
inheritance of his kingdom, unless previously made partakers j 
of him. But if we are chosen in him, we shall find no assu- 
rance ofour^election in ourselves ; nor even in God the Father, 
considered alone,'ab"stfacteaTy from the Son. jChrist, therefore, 
isjthe mirror, in which it behoves us to contemplate our elec- 
tiony and here we may do it with safety. For as the Father 
has^^ermined to unite to the body of his Son all who are the 

(g^ Isaiah xxv. 1. (A) Matt. iii. 17. 



184 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111. 

objects of his eternal choice, that he may have, as his children, 
all that he recognizes among his members, we have a testimony 
sufficiently clear and strong, that if we have communion with 
Christ, we are written in the book of life. And he gave us 
this certain communion with himself, when he testified by the 
preaching of the gospel, that he was given to us by the Father, 
to be ours with all his benefits. We are said to put him on, 
and to grow up into him, that we may live because he lives. 
This doctrine is often repeated. "God spared not his only 
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not 
perish." (i) " He that believeth on him, is passed from death 
unto life." (k) In which sense he calls himself " The bread 
of life, he that eateth which, shall live for ever." (Z) He, I 
say, is our witness, that all who receive him by faith shall be 
considered as the children of his heavenly Father. If we 
desire any thing more than being numbered among the sons 
and heirs of God, we must rise above Christ. If this is our 
highest limit, what folly do we betray in seeking out of him, 
that which we have already obtained in him, and which can 
never be found any where else ! Besides, as he is the Father's 
eternal Wisdom, immutable Truth, and determined Counsel, 
we have no reason to fear the least variation in the declarations 
of his word from that will of the Father, which is the object 
of our inquiry ; indeed, he faithfully reveals it to us, as it has 
been from the beginning, and will ever continue to be. This 
doctrme ought to have a practical influence on our prayers. 
For though faith in election animates us to call upon God, yet 
it would be preposterous to obtrude it upon him when we pray, 
or to stipulate this condition — O Lord, if 1 am elected, hear 
me ; since it is his pleasure that we should be satisfied with 
his promises, and make no further inquiries whether he will be 
propitious to our prayers. This prudence will extricate us 
from many snares, if we know how to make a right use of 
what has been rightly written ; but we must not inconsider- 
ately apply to various purposes, what ought to be restricted 
to the object particularly designed. 

VI. For the establishment of our confidence, there is also 
another confirmation of election, which, we have said, is con- 
nected with our calling. For those whom Christ illuminates 
with the knowledge of his name, and introduces into the bosom 
of his Church, he is said to receive into his charge and protection. 
And all whom he receives are said to be committed and in- 
trusted to him by the Father, to be kept to eternal life. What 
Jo we wish for ourselves ? Christ loudly proclaims that all 
whose salvation was designed by the Father, had been deli- 
st) Rom. viii. 32. John iii. 15, 16. (k) John v. 24. (0 John vi. 35—59. 



CttAP. XXIV. J CHRISTIAN HEUIGION 1 8v> 

vered by him into his protection, (m) If, therefore^ we want 
to ascertain whether God is concerned for our salvation, let us in- 
quire whether he has committed us to Christ, whom he constitut- ' 
ed the only Saviour of all his people. Now, if we doubt whether,' 
Christ has received us into his charge and custody, he obviates] 
this doubt, by freely offering himself as our Shepherd, and declar-j 
ing that if we hear his voice, we shall be numbered among hia 
sheep. We therefore embrace Christ, thus kindly offered to us 
and advancing to meet us ; and he will number us with his 
sheep, and preserve us enclosed in his fold. But yet we feell 
anxiety for our future state ; for as Paul declares that " whoinj 
he predestinated, them he also called," {n) so Christ informy 
us that " many are called, but few chosen." (o) Beside^ 
Paul himself also, in another place, cautions against carelessness, 
saying, " Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he 
fall." (p) Again : " Art thou grafted among the people of God ? 
Be not high-minded, but fear. God is able to cut thee off again, 
and graft in others." {q) Lastly, experience itself teaches us i 
that vocation and faith are of little value, unless accompanied ( 
by perseverance, which is not the lot of all. But Christ has 
delivered us from this anxiety, for these promises undoubtedly 
belong to the future : " All that the Father giveth me, shall 
come to me ; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise 
cast out. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, 
that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, 
but should raise it up again at the last day." (r) Again : " My 
sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 
And I give unto them eternal hfe, and they shall never perish, 
neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, 
which gave them me, is greater than all ; and none is able 
to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (s) Besides, when i 
lie declares, " Every plant which my heavenly Father hath 
not planted, shall be rooted up," {t) he fully implies on the 
contrary, that those who are rooted in God, can never by any 
violence be deprived of salvation. With this corresponds 
that passage of John, " If they had been of us, they would no 
doubt have continued with us." (w) Hence also that magnifi- 
cent exultation of Paul, in defiance of life and death, of things 
present and future ; which must necessarily have been founded 
in the gift of perseverance, (x) Nor can it be doubted that ho 
applies this sentiment to all the elect. The same apostle in 
another place says, " He which hath begun a good work iu 
you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. " (y) This 

(m) John vi. 37, 39 ; ? vii. 6, 12. (q) Rom. xi. 17—23. (u) 1 John ii. 19. 

{nj Rom. viii. 30. (r) John vi. 37, 39. (z) Rom. viii. 35— 3S 

(o) Matt. xxii. 14. (s) John x. 27—29. (y) Phil. i. 6. 

(p) 1 Cor. X. 12. (0 Matt xv. 13. 

VOL,. II, 24 



186 INSTITUTl'.S OF THE [bOOK III. 

also supported David when his faith was faihng : " Thou wilt 
inot forsake the work of thine own hands." (z) Nor is it to be 
doubted, that when Christ intercedes for all the elect, he prays 
for them the same as for Peter, that their faith may never fail. 
Hence we conclude, that they are beyond all danger of falling 
away, because the intercessions of the Son of God for their 
perseverance in piety have not been rejected. What did Christ 
lintend we should learn from this, but confidence in our per- 
;)etiial security, since we have once been introduced into the 
•unnber of his people ? 

Vli. But it daily happens, that they who appeared to belong 
!() Christ, fall away from him again, and sink into ruin. Even 
i;i that very place, where he asserts that none perish of those 
who were given to him by the Father, he excepts the son of 
perdition. This is true ; but it is equally certain, that such 
persons never adhered to Christ with that confidence of heart 
jwhich, we say, gives us an assurance of our election. " They 
'went out from us," says John, '' but they were not of us ; for 
if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued 
with us." (a) I dispute not their having similar signs of calling 
with the elect; but I am far from admitting them to possess 
that certain assurance of election which I enjoin believers to 
seek from the word of the gospel. Wherefore, let not such 
examples move us from a tranquil reliance on our Lord's 
promise, where he declares, that all who receive him by faith 
were given him by the Father, and that since he is their 
Guardian and Shepherd, not one of them shall perish. Of 
Judas we shall speak afterwards. Paul is dissuading Christians, 
not from all security, but from supine, unguarded, carnal secu- 
rity, which is attended with pride, arrogance, and contemj.t of 
others, extinguishes humility and reverence of God, and pro- 
duces forgetfulness of favours received. For he is addressing 
Gentiles, teaching them that the Jews should not be proudly 
and inhumanly insulted because they had been rejected, and 
the Gentiles substituted in their place. He also inculcates fear ; 
not such a fear as produces terror and uncertainty, but such as 
teaches humble admiration of the grace of God, without any 
diminution of confidence in it ; as has been elsewhere observed. 
Besides, he is not addressing individuals, but distinct parties 
generally. For as the Church was divided into two parties, 
and emulation gave birth to dissension, Paul admonishes the 
Gentiles, that their substitution in the place of the holy and 
peculiar people ought to be a motive to fear and modesty. 
There were, however, many clamorous people among them, 
whose empty boasting it was necessary to restrain. But we 

(z) Psalm cxxxviii 8. (a) 1 John ii. 19. 



CHAP. XXIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. I o7 

have already seen that our hope extends ii to futurity, even 
beyond the grave, and that nothing is moie contrary to it& 
nature than doubts respecting our final destiny. 

VIII, The declaration of Christ, that "many are called,y 
and few chosen,'' is very improperly understood. For there* 
will be 110 ambiguity in it, if we remember what must bo clear 
from the foregoing observations, that there are two kinds of 
calling. For there js a universal call, by which God, in the ; 
external preaching of the word, invites all, indiscriminately, to \ 
come to him, even those to whom he intends it as a savour of ' 
death, and an occasion of heavier condemnation. There is also 
..a^gecial^callj^ 3vith which he, for the most part, favours only 
believers, when, by the ^inward illumination of his Spirit, he 
causes the word preached to sink into their hearts. Yet some- 
times he also communicates it to those whom he only enlightens 
for a season, and afterwards forsakes on account of their ingra- 
titude, and strikes with greater bUndness. Now, the Lord, see- 
ing the gospel published far and wide, held in contempt by 
the generaUty of men, and justly appreciated by few, gives us 
a description of God, under the character of a king, who prepares 
a solemn feast, and sends out his messengers in every direction, 
to invite a great company, but can only prevail on very few, 
every one alleging impediments to excuse himself; so that at 
length he is constrained by their refusal to bring in all who can 
be found in the streets. Thus far, every one sees, the parable 
is to be understood of the external call. He proceeds to inforraT^ 
us, that God acts like a good master of a feast, walking round 
the tables, courteously receiving his guests ; but that if he fuids 
any one not adorned with a nuptial garment, he suffers no. the 
meanness of such a person to disgrace the festivity 0/ the 
banquet. I confess, this part is to be understood of those <vho 
enter into the Church by a profession of faith, but ar« not 
invested with the sanctification of Christ. Such blemishes, and, 
as it were, cankers of his Church, God will not always suffei , but 
will cast them out of it, as their turpitude deserves. '\J'ewJ 
therefore, are chosen out of a multitude that are calle-?ph'ut 
not with that calling by which we say believers ought to judge 
of their election. For the former is common also to the wicked ; 
but the latter is attended with the Spirit of regenerati'jn, the I 
earnest and seal of the future inheritance, which seals om- hearts J 
to the day of the Lord, (b) In short, though hypocrites boast 
of piety as if they were true worshippers of God, Christ 
declares that he will finally cast them out of the place which 
they unjustly occupy. Thus the Psalmist says, " Who shall 
abide in thy tabernacle ? He that worketh righteousness, and 
Rpeaketh the truth in his heart." (c) Again- "This is the 

(h) Ephes. 1. 13, 14. (c) Psalm xv. 1. 



188 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O 
Jacob." (d) And thus the Spirit exhorts believers to patience, 
that they may not be disturbed by Ishmaehtes being united 
with them in the Church, since the mask will at length be torn 
off, and they will be cast out with disgrace. 
I IX. The same reasoning applies to the exception lately cited, 
where Christ says, that " none of them is lost, but the son of 
/perdition." (e) Here is, indeed, some inaccuracy of expression, 
but the meaning is clear. For he was never reckoned among 
the sheep of Christ, as being really such, but only as he occu- 
pied the place of one. When the Lord declares he was chosen 
by himself with the other apostles, it only refers to the minis- 
terial office. " Have not I chosen you twelve," says he, " and 
i oiie of you is a devil ?"(/) That is, he had chosen him to 
, the office of an apostle. But when he speaks of election to 
\ salvation, he excludes him from the number of the elect : " I 
1 speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen." (^) If 
any one confound the term election in these passages, he will 
miserably embarrass himself; if he make a proper distinction, 
, nothing is plainer. It is therefore a very erroneous and per- 
nicious assertion of Gregory, that we are only conscious of our 
_ calling, but uncertain of our election ; from which he exhorts 
jail to fear and trembling, using also this argument, that though 
I we know what we are to-day, yet we know not what we may 
be in future. But the context plainly shows the cause of his 
error on this point. For as he suspended election on the merit 
of works, this furnished abundant reason for discouragement to 
the minds of men : he could never establish them, for want of 
leading them from themselves to a confidence in the Divine 
goodness. Hence believers have some perception of what we 
stated at the beginning, that predestination, rightly considered, 
neither destroys nor weakens faith, but rather furnishes its best 
confirmation. Yet I will not deny, that the Spirit sometimes 
accommodates his language to the limited extent of our capacity, 
as when he says, " They shall not be in the assembly of my 
people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house 
of Israel." (A) As though God were beginning to write in the 
book of life those whom he numbers among his people, whereas 
we know from the testimony of Christ, that the names of God's 
children have been written in the book of life from the begin- 
ning, [i) But these expressions only signify the rejection of 
those who seemed to be the chief among the elect ; as the 
Psalmist says, " Let them be blotted out of the book of tl.a 
living, and not be written with the righteous." {k) 



(i) Psalm xxiv. 6. (e) John xvii. 12. (/) John vi. 70. ;o-) John xiii. J8. 
(A) Ewk. xiii. 9. (0 Luke x. 20. (k) Psahu Ixix. 28. 



i'HAP. XXIV. j CHRISTIAN KEI.IGION. 189 

X. Now, the elect are not gathered into the fold of Christ by 
calling, immediately from their birth, nor all at the same time, 
but according as God is pleased to dispense his grace to them. ^ 
Before they are gathered to that chief Shepherd, they go a- 
stray, scattered in the common wilderness, and differing in no 
respect from others, except in being protected by the special 
mercy of God from rushing down the precipice of eternal death. 
If you observe them, therefore, you will see the posterity of 
Adam partaking of the common corruption of the whole spe- 
cies. That they go not to the most desperate extremes of 
impiety, is not owing to any innate goodness of theirs, but be- 
cause the eye of God watches over them, and his hand is ex- 
tended for their preservation. For those who dream of I know 
not what seed of election sown in their hearts from their very 
birth, always inclining them to piety and the fear of God, are 
unsupported by the authority of Scripture, and refuted by ex- 
perience itself. They produce, indeed, a few examples to 
prove that certain elect persons were not entire strangers to/ 
religion, even before they were truly enlightened ; that Paul| 
lived blameless in his Pharisaism ; (I) that Cornelius, with his 
alms and prayers, was accepted of God, (m) and if there are any 
other similar ones. What they say of Paul, we admit ; but re- 
specting Cornelius, we maintain that they are deceived ; for it 
is evident, he was then enlightened and regenerated, and 
wanted nothing but a clear revelation of the gospel. But 
what will they extort from these very few examples ? that the 
elect have always been endued with the spirit of piety ? This 
is just as if any one, having proved the integrity of Aristides, 
Socrates, Xenocrates, Scipio, Curius, Camillus, and other hea- 
thens, should conclude from this, that all who were left in the 
darkness of idolatry, were followers of holiness and virtue. 
But this is contradicted in many passages of Scripture. Paul's 
description of the state of the Ephesians prior to regeneration, 
exhibits not a grain of this seed. " Ye were dead," he says, 
'• in trespasses and sins, wherein in time past ye walked accord 
iiig to the coarse of this world, according to the prince of tne 
power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children 
of disobedience ; among whom also we all had our conversa- 
tion in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the de- 
sires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the 
children of wrath, even as others." (n) Again : " Remember 
that at that time ye were without hope, and without God in 
the world." (o) Again: "Ye were sometimes darkness, but 
now are ye light in the Lord ; walk as children of light." { p) 



(l) Phil. iii. 5, 6. (m) Acts x. 2. (n) Ephes. 5i. 1—3. 

(o) Ephes. ii. 11, 12. (p) Ephes. v. 8 ; iv. 18 



190 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

But perhaps they will plead, that these passages refer to thai 
ignorance of the true God, in which they acknowledge the 
elect to be involved previously to their calling. Though this 
would be an impudent cavil, since the apostle's inferences from 
them are such as these : " Put away lying ; and let him that 
stole, steal no more." (q) But what will they reply to other 
passages ? such as that where, after declaring to the Cormthi- 
ans, that " Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, 
nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor 
thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extor- 
tioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God ; " he immediately 
adds, " And such were some of you ; but ye are washed, but 
ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord 
Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (r) And another pas- 
sage, addressed to the Romans : " As ye have yielded your 
members servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto ini- 
quity ; even so now yield your members servants to right- 
eousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye 
are now ashamed ? " (s) 

XL What kind of seed of election was springing up in 
them, who were all their lives contaminated with various 
pollutions, and with desperate wickedness wallowed in the 
most nefarious and execrable of all crimes? If he had intend- 
ed to speak according to these teachers, he ought to have shown 
how much they were obliged to the goodness of God, which 
had preserved them from falling into such great pollutions. 
So likewise the persons whom Peter addressed, he ought to 
have exhorted to gratitude on account of the perpetual seed 
of election. But, on the contrary, he admonishes them, " that 
the time past may suffice to have wrought the will of the 
Gentiles." (7) What if we come to particular examples? 
What principle of righteousness was there in Rahab the 
harlot before faith ? (w) in Manasseh, when Jerusalem was 
dyed, and almost drowned, with the blood of the prophets ? {a;] 
in the thief, who repented in his dying moments? (y) Away, 
then, with these arguments, which men of presumptuous curi- 
osity raise to themselves without regarding the Scripture. Let 
US rather abide by the declaration of the Scripture, that "all 
we like sheep have gone astray ; we have turned every one to 
his own way," (z) that is, destruction. Those whom the Lord 
has determined to rescue from this gulf of perdition, he defers 
.ill his appointed season ; before which he only preserves them 
from falling into unpardonable blasphemy. 

/XIL As the Lord, by his effectual calling of the elect, com- 

(9) Ephes. iv. 25, 28. (t) 1 Peter iv. 3. (y) Luke xxiii. 40 

(r) 1 Cor. Ti. 9—11. (u) Josh. ii. 1, &c. —42. 

'») Rom. vi. 19, 21 (z) 2 Kings xxi. 16 (z) Isaiah liii. 6 



CHAP. XXIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 191 

pleles the salvation to which he predestinated them in hisf 
eternal counsel, so he has his judgments against the reprobate, ( 
by which he executes his counsel respecting them. Those, 
therefore, whom he has created to a life oTshame and a death of 
destruction, that they might be instruments of his wrath, and 
examples of his severity, he causes to reach their appointed end, 
sometimes depriving them of the opportunity of hearing thei 
word, sometimes, by the preaching of it, increasing their blind-( 
ness and stupidity. Of the former there are innumerable exam- 
ples : let us only select one that is more evident and remarkable 
than the rest. Before the advent of Christ, there passed about 
foLu- thousand years, in which the Lord concealed the light of 
the doctrine of salvation from all the Gentiles. If it be replied, 
that he withheld from them the participation of so great a 
blessing because he esteemed them unworthy, their posterity 
will be found equally unworthy of it. The truth of this, to 
say nothing of experience, is sufficiently attested by Malachi, 
who follows his reproofs of unbelief and gross blasphemies by 
an immediate prediction of the coming of the Messiah. Why, 
theh7Ts he given to the posterity rather than to their ancestors ? 
He will torment himself in vain, who seeks for any cause of 
this beyond the secret and inscrutable counsel of God. Nor 
need we be afraid lest any disciple of Porphyry should be im- 
boldened to calumniate the justice of God by our silence in its 
defence. For while we assert that all deserve to perish, and 
it is of GodVfiree goodness that any are saved, enough is said 
for the illustration of his glory, so that every subterfuge of ours 
is altogether unnecessary. The supreme Lord, therefore, by 
depriving of the communication of his light, and leaving in 
darkness, those whom he has reprobated, makes way for the 
accomplishment of his predestination. Of the second class, the 
Scriptures contain many examples, and others present them- 
selves every day. The same sermon is addressed to a hundred 
persons ; Uventy receive it with the obedience of faith ; the 
others despise, or ridicule, or reject, or condemn it. If it be 
replied, that the difference proceeds from their wickedness and 
perverseness, this will afford no satisfaction ; because the minds 
of others would have been influenced by the same wickedness, 
but foi the correction of Divine goodness. And thus we shalll 
always be perplexed, unless we recur to Paul's question — " Who 
maketh thee to differ? "(a) In which he signifies, that Jhej 
excellence of some men beyond others, is not from their own 
'Virtue, but solely from Divine grace. 

XIII. Why, then, in bestowing grace upon some, does he 
pass over others ? Luke assigns a reason for the former, that 

(a) 1 Cor. iv. 7. 



192 INSTITUTES OF THE |bOOK III. 

.they " were ordained to eternal life." What conclusion, then, 
Ishall we draw respecting the latter, but that they are vessels 
W wrath to dishonour ? Wherefore let us not hesitate to say 
jwith Augustine, " God could convert to good the will of the 
(wicked, because he is omnipotent. It is evident that he could. 
I jWhy, then, does he not ? Because he would not. Why he 
iwould not, remains with himself" For we ought not to aim 
at more wisdom than becomes us. That will be much better 
than adopting the evasion of Chrysostom, " that he draws those 
who are willing, and who stretch out their hands for his aid ; " 
that the difference may not appear to consist in the decree of 
God, but wholly in the will of man. But an approach to him 
is so far from being a mere effort of man, that even pious per- 
sons, and such as fear God, still stand in need of the pecu- 
liar impulse of the Spirit. Lydia, the seller of purple, feared 
God, and yet it was necessary that her heart should be opened, 
to attend to, and profit by, the doctrine of Paul. This declara- 
tion is not made respecting a single female, but in order to 
teach us that every one's advancement in piety is the secret 
work of the Spirit. It is a fact not to be doubted, that God 
sends his word to many whose blindness he determines shall 
be increased. For with what design does he direct so many 
commands to be delivered to Pharaoh? Was it from an ex- 
pectation that his heart would be softened by repeated and 
frequent messages ? Before he began, he knew and foretold 
/the result. He commanded Moses to go and declare his will 
(to Pharaoh, adding at the same time, " But I will harden his 
•heart, that he shall not let the people go." (6) So, when he 
calls forth Ezekiel, he apprizes him that he is sending him to 
a rebellious and obstinate people, that he may not be alarmed if 
they refuse to hear him. (c) So Jeremiah foretells that his word 
will be like fire, to scatter and destroy the people like stubble, {d] 
But the prophecy of Isaiah furnishes a still stronger confirma- 
tion ; for this is his mission from the Lord : "Go and tell this 
people. Hear ye, indeed, but understand not, and see ye, indeed, 
but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make 
their ears heavy, and shut their eyes ; lest they see with theii 
eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart,, 
and convert, and be healed." (e) Observe, he directs his voice 
to them, but it is that they may become more deaf; he kin- 
dles a light, but it is that they may be made more blind ; he 
publishes his doctrine, but it is that they may be more besotted ; 
he applies a remedy, but it is that they may not be healed. 
/John, citing this prophecy, declares that the Jews could not 

(b) Exod. iv. 21. (d) Jer. v. 14. 

(c) Ezek. ii. 3 ; xii. 2 (e) Isaiah vi. 9, 10. 



CHAP. XXIV.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 193 

believe, because this curse of God was upon them. (/) Nor^ 
can it be disputed, that to such persons as God determines not) 
to enlighten, he delivers his doctrine involved in enigmatical \ 
obscurity, that its only effect may be to increase their stupidity. > 
For Christ testifies that he confined to his apostles the expla- 
nations of the parables in which he had addressed the multi- 
tude ; "because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the \ 
kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." (^) What / 
does the Lord mean, you will say, by teaching those by whom 
he takes care not to be understood ? Consider whence the 
fault arises, and you will cease the inquiry ; for whatever 
obscurity there is in the word, yet there is always light enough 
to convince the consciences of the wicked. 

XIV. It remains now to be seen why the Lord does that/ 
which it is evident he does. If it be replied, that this is dona 
because men have deserved it by their irnpiety, wickedness, and 
ingratitj^ide. it will be a just and true observation: but as we 
have not yet discov^ered the reason of this diversity, why somel 
persist in obduracy while others are inclined to obedience, thei 
discussion of it will necessarily lead us to the same remark that/ 
Paul has quoted from Moses concerning Pharaoh: "Even for' 
this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my 
power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout 
aTrnie"earth'.*"' (A) That the reprobate obey not the word of 
God, when made known to them, is justly imputed to thej 
wickedness and depravity of their hearts, provided it be at thefi 
same time stated, that they are abandoned to this depravity'! 
because they have been raised up, by a just but inscrutable 
judgment of God, to display his glory in their condemnation.; 
So, when it is relatedTof the sonsof Eli, that they listened not 
to his salutary admonitions, "because the Lord would slay 
them," (i) it is not denied that their obstinacy proceeded 
from their own wickedness, but it is plainly implied that 
though the Lord was able to soften their hearts, yet they were 
left in their obstinacy, because his immutable decree had pre- 
destinated them to destruction. To the same purpose is that 
passage of John, " Though he had done so many miracles 
before them, yet they believed not on him ; that the saying of 
Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, ' Lord, 
who hath believed our report ? ' " (k) For though he does not 
acquit the obstinate from the charge of guilt, yet he satisfies 
himself with this reason, that the grace of God has no charms 
for men till the Holy Spirit gives them a taste for it. And 
Christ cites the prophecy of Isaiah, " They shall be all taught 

(/) John xii. 39, 40. (g) Matt. xiii. 11. (h) Rom. ix. 17 

(i) 1 Sam. ii. 25. (k) John lii. 37, 38. 

VOL. II. 25 



194 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK II. 

of God," (I) with no other design than to show, that the Jews 
are reprobate and strangers to the Church, because they are 
destitute of docility ; and he adduces no other reason for it 
than that the promise of God does not belong to them ; which 
,is confirmed by that passage of Paul, where "Christ crucified, 
'unto the Jews a stnmbling-block, and unto the Greeks fcolish- 
ness," is said to be "unto them which are- called, the power 
of God, and the wisdom of God." {mj For, after remarking 
what generally happens whenever the gospel is preached, that 
it exasperates some, and is despised by others, he represents it 
as duly appreciated only by " those who are called." A little 
before he had mentioned " them that believe ; " not that he 
had an intention to deny its proper place to the grace of God, 
which precedes faith, but he seems to add this second descrip- 
tion by way of correction, in order that those who had received 
the gospel might ascribe the praise of their faith to the Divine 
call. And so, likewise, in a subsequent sentence, he represents 
them as the objects of Divine election. When the impious 
hear these things, they loudly complain that God, by a wanton 
exercise of power, abuses his wretched creatures for the sport 
of his cruelty. But we, who know that all men are liable to 
so many charges at the Divine tribunal, that of a thousand 
questions they would be unable to give a satisfactory answer 
to one, confess that the reprobate sufi'er nothing but what is 
consistent with the most righteous judgment of God. Though 
we cannot comprehend the reason of this, let us be content 
with some degree of ignorance where the wisdom of God soars 
into its own sublimity. 

XV. But as objections are frequently raised from some pas- 
sages of Scripture, in which God seems to deny that the de- 
struction of the wicked is caused by his decree, but that, in 
opposition to his remonstrances, they voluntarily bring ruin 
upon themselves, — let us show by a brief explication that they 
are not at all inconsistent with the foregoing doctrine. A pas- 
sage is produced from Ezekiel, where God says, " I have no 
pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn 
from his way and live." (/i) If this is to be extended to all 
mankind, why does he not urge many to repentance, whose 
minds are more flexible to obedience than those of others, who 
glow more and more callous to his daily invitations? Among 
the inhabitants of Nineveh and Sodom, Christ himself declares 
that his evangelical preaching and miracles would have brought 
forth more fruit than in Judea. How is it, then, if God will 
have all men to be saved, that he opens not the gate of repent- 
ance to those miserable men who would be more ready to re- 

(^Johnvi. 45. (m) 1 Cor. i. 23, 24. (w) Ezek. xixiii. 11. 



CHAP. XXIV. J CHRISTIAN HELIGION. 1 95» 

ceive tha favour ? Hence we perceive it to be a violent per- 
version of the passage, if the will of God, mentioned by the 
prophet, be set in opposition to his eternal counsel, by which 
he has distinguished the elect from the reprobate. Now, if we 
inquire the genuine sense of the prophet, his only meaning is 
to inspire the penitent with hopes of pardon. And this is the 
sum, that it is beyond a doubt that God is ready to pardon sin- 
ners immediately on their conversion. Therefore he wills not 
their death, inasmuch as he wills their repentance. But expe- 
lience teaches, that he does not will the repentance of those 
whom he externally calls, in such a manner as to affect all their 
hearts. Nor should he on this account be charged with acting 
deceitfully ; for, though his external call only renders those 
who hear without obeying it inexcusable, yet it is justly es- 
teemed the testimony of God's grace, by which he reconciles 
men to himself. Let us observe, therefore, the design of thej 
prophet in saying that God has no pleasure in the death of a( 
sinner ; it is to assure the pious of God's readiness to pardon ; 
them immediately on their repentance, and to show the impious I 
ihe aggravation of their sin in rejecting such great compassion 
and kindness of God. Repentance, therefore, will always be 
met by Divine mercy ; but on whom repentance is bestowed, 
Ave are clearly taught by Ezekiel himself, as well as by all the 
prophets and apostles. 

XVI. Another passage adduced is from Paul, where he states 
that "God will have all men to be saved ; " (o) which, though 
somewhat different from the passage^ust considered, yet is very 
similar to it. I reply, in the first place, that it is evident from 
the context, how God wills the salvation of all ; for Paul con- 
nects these two things together, that he " will have all men to 
be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." If 
it was fixed in the eternal counsel of God, that they should 
receive the doctrine of salvation, what is the meaning of that 
question of Moses, " What nation is there so great, who hath God 
so nigh unto them as we have ? " {p) How is it that God has 
deprived many nations of the light of the gospel, which others 
enjoyed? How is it that the pure knowledge of the doctrine 
of piety has never reached some, and that others have but just 
heard some obscu-^o rudiments of it ? Hence it will be easy to 
discover the design of Paul. He had enjoined Timothy to 
make solemn prayers in the Church for kings and princes ; but 
as it might seem somewhat inconsistent to pray to God for 
a class of men almost past hope, — for they were not only 
strangers to the body of Christ, but striving with all their pow- 
er to ruin his kingdom, — he subjoins, that "this is good and 

(0)1 Tim. ii. 4. {p) Deut. iv. 7 



196 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOR 11 

acceptable in the sight of God, Avho will have all men to be 
saved ; " which only imports, that God has not closed the way 
of salvation against any order of men, but has diffused his 
mercy in such a manner that he would have no rank to be des- 
titute of it. The other texts adduced are not declarative of the 
Lord's determination respecting all men in his secret C( unsel : 
they only proclaim that pardon is ready for all sinners who 
sincft-ely seek it. (q) For if they obstinately insist on its being 
sciid that God is merciful to all, I will oppose to them, what is 
elsewhere asserted, that "our God is in the heavens; he hath 
.done whatsoever he hath pleased." (r) This text, then, must 
be explained in a manner consistent with another, where God 
says, "I will be gracious to whom 1 will be gracious, and I will 
show mercy on whom I will show mercy." (s) He who makes 
a selection of objects for the exercise of his mercy, does not 
impart that mercy to all. But as it clearly appears that Paul is 
there speaking, not of individuals, but orders of men, I shall 
forbear any further argument. It must be remarked, however, 
that Paul is not declaring the actual conduct of God at all times, 
in all places, and to all persons, but merely representing him as 
at liberty to make kings and magistrates at length partakers of 
the heavenly doctrine, notwithstanding their present rage against 
it in consequence of their blindness. There is more apparent 
plausibility in their objection, from the declaration of Peter, 
that " the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that 
jail should come to repentance." (t) But the second clause 
furnishes an immediate solution of this difficulty ; for the will- 
ingness that they should come to repentance must be understood 
in consistence with the general tenor of Scripture. Conversion 
is certainly in the power of God ; let him be asked, whether 
he wills the conversion of all. when he promises a few indi- 
viduals to give them " a heart of flesh," while he leaves others 
with "a heart of stone." (u) If he were not ready to receive 
those who implore his mercy, there would indeed be no propri- 
ety in this address, " Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto 
you ; " (x) but I maintain that no mortal ever approaches God 
without being divinely drawn. But if repentance depended on 
the will of man, Paul would not have said, "If Gt-d peradven- 
ture will give them repentance." (?/) And if God, whose voice 
exhorts all men to repentance, did not draw the elect to it by 
the secret operation of his Spirit, Jeremiah would not have said, 
" T irn thou me, and I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord 
my God Surely after that I was turned, 1 repented." (z) 



(q) Psalm cxlv. 9. (f) 2 Peter iii. 9. (y) 2 Tim. ii. 25. 

(r) Psalm cxv. 3. (m) Ezek. xxxvi. 26. (2) Jer. xxxi. 18, 19. 

(s) Exod. xxxiii. 19. (x) Zech. i. 3. 



JHAP XXIV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 197 

XVII. If this be correct, it will be said there can be but little , 
faith ill the promises of tlie gospel, which, in declaring the willl 
of God, assert that he wills \vhat is repugnant to his inviolal)le 
decree. But this is far from a just conclusion. For if we turn ' 
our attention to the effect of the promises of salvation, we shall 
find that their universality is not at all inconsistent with ^he 
)redestination of the reprobate. We know the promises to be i 
effectual to us only when we receive them by faith ; on the 
contrary, the annihilation of faith is at once an abolition of the [ 
promises. If this is their nature, we may perceive that there is 
no discordance between these two things — God's having ap- 
j)ointed from eternity on whom he will bestow his favour and 
exercise his wrath, and his proclaiming salvation indiscriminately 
to all. Indeed, I maintain that there is the most perfect har- 
mony between them. For his sole design in thus promising, is 
to offer his mercy to all who desire and seek it, which none do 
but those whom he has enlightened, and he enlightens all whom 
he has predestinated to salvation. These persons experience 
the certain and unshaken truth of the promises ; so that it can- 
not be pretended that there is the least contrariety between 
God's eternal election and the testimony of his grace offered to 
believers. But why does he mention all ? It is in order that 
the consciences of the pious may enjoy the more secure satis- 
faction, seeing that there is no difference between sinners, 
provided they have faith ; and, on the other hand, that the 
impious may not plead the want of an asylum to flee to from' 
the bondage of sin, while they ungratefully reject that which is 
offered to them. When the mercy of God is offered to both by | 
the gospel, it is faith, that is, the illumination of God, which 
distinguishes between the pious and impious ; so that the former 
experience the efficacy of the gospel, but the latter derive no 
benefit from it. Now, this illumination is regulated by God's 
eternal election. The complaint and lamentation of Christ, 
" O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered 
thy children together, and ye would not," (a) however they 
cite it, affords them no support. I confess, that Christ here 
speaks not merely in his human character, but that he is up- 
braiding the Jews for having in all ages rejected his grace. But 
we must define the will of God which is here intended. It is 
well known how sedulously God laboured to preserve that 
people to himself, and with what extreme obstinacy, from the 
first to the last, they refused to be gathered, being abandoned 
to their own wandering desires; but this does not authorize 
the conclusion, that the counsel of God was frustrated by the 
wickedness of men. They object, that nothing is more incon- ^ 

I 

(a) Matt, xiiii. 37. 



198 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111. 

sis tent with the nature of God than to have two wills. This 1 
[grant them, provided it be rightly explained. But why do they 
not consider the numerous passages, where, by the assumption 
of human affections, God condescends beneath his own majesty r 
He says, " I have spread out my hands all the day unto a re- 
bellious people ; " (6) early and late endeavouring to bring them 
to himself. If they are determined to accommodate all this to 
God, and disregard the figurative mode of expression, they will 
give rise to many needless contentions, which may be settled by 
this one solution, that what is peculiar to man is transferred to 
God. The solution, however, elsewhere stated by us, is fully 
I sufficient — that though to our apprehension the will of God is 
manifold and various, yet he does not in himself will things at 
I variance with each other, but astonishes our faculties with his 
I various and "manifold wisdom," according to the expression of 
' Paul, till we shall be enabled to understand, that he niysteri- 
ously wills what now seems contrary to his will. They im- 
pertinently object, that God being the Father of all, it is unjust 
for him to disinherit any bat such as have previously deserved 
this punishment by their own guilt. As if the goodness of God 
did not extend even to dogs and swine. But if the question 
relates to the human race, let them answer why God allied 
himself to one people as their Father ; why he gathered even 
from them but a very small number, as the flower of them. 
But their rage for slander prevents these railers from consider- 
/ ing that God " maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the 
good," (c) but that the inheritance is reserved for the few, to 
whom it shall one day be said, " Come, ye blessed of my Father, 
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the 
world." (d) They further object, that God hates nothing be has 
made : which though I grant them, the doctrine I maintain still 
remains unshaken, that the reprobate are hated by God, and 
that most justly, because, being destitute of his Spirit, they can 
do nothing but what is deserving of his curse. They further al- 
lege, that there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile, 
and therefore that the grace of God is offered indiscriminately to 
all : I grant it ; only let them admit, according to the declaration 
of Paul, that God calls whom he pleases, both of the Jews and 
of the Gentiles, (e) so that he is under no obligation to any. In 
this way also we answer their arguments from another text, 
which says, that " God hath concluded them all in unbelief, 
that he might have mercy upon all ; " (/) which imports that 
he will have the salvation of all who are saved ascribed to his 
mercy, though this blessing is not common to all. Now, while 



(b) Isaiah Ixv. 2. (c) Matt. v. 48. (d) Matt, 

(e) Rotj ix. 24. (/) Rom. xi. 32. 



CHAP. X\V.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 199 

many arguments are advanced on both sides, let our conclusion 
be to stand astonished with Paul at so great a mystery, and 
amidst the clamour of petulant tongues let us not be ashamed 
of exclaiming with him, " O man, who art thou that repliest 
against God ? " For, as Augustine justly contends, it is acting 
a most perverse part, to set up the measure of human justice 
as the standard by whichi.lQ,.jQaLea5ure.Jbe j[usU^ of God. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

THE FINAL RESURRECTION. 



Thodgf Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, after having 
"abolishec death," is declared by Paul to have "brought life 
and immor':ality to light," shining upon us " through the gos- 
pel," {g) w'lence also in believing we are said to have " passed 
from death unto life," {h) being "no more strangers and fo- 
reigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the house- 
hold of God," {i) who "hath made us sit together in heavenly 
places " with his only begotten Son, {k) that nothing may be 
wanting to cur complete felicity, — yet, lest we should find it 
grievous to be still exercised with a severe warfare, as though 
we derived no benefit from the victory gained by Christ, we 
must remember what is stated in another place concerning the 
nature of hoje. For "since we hope for that we see not," {I) 
and, according to another text, " faith is the evidence of things 
not seen ; " {-n) as long as we are confined in the prison of the 
flesh, '* we ar-i absent from the Lord." {n) Wherefore the same 
apostle says, ' Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in 
God ; " and ' when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then 
shall ye also ippear with him in glory." (o) This, then, is our 
condition, " tliat we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, 
in this preseit world, looking for that blessed hope, and the 
glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus 
Christ." (j9) Here we have need of more than common 
patience, lest being wearied, we pursue a retrograde course, or 
desert the station assigned us. All that has hitherto been 
stated theref>re, concerning our salvation, requires minds ele- 
vated towarcs heaven, that, according to the suggestion of 
Peter, we m^y love Christ, whom we have not seen, and be- 

(^g) 2 Tim. i 10. (k) Ephes. ii. 6. (a) 2 Cor. v. 6. 

(^) John V. 24. (Z) Rom. viii. 24. (o) Col. iii. 3, 4. 

(i) Eohes. i.. 19. (m) Heb. xi. 1. (p) Titus li. 12, 13 



200 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111 

lieving in him, may " rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of 
glory," till we receive "the end of our faith." (q) For which 
reason, Paul represents the faith and hope of believers as having 
respect to " the hope that is laid up in heaven." (r) When we 
are thus looking towards heaven, with our eyes fixed upon 
Christ, and nothing detains them on earth from carrying us 
forward to the promised blessedness, we realize the fulfilment 
of that declaration, " Where your treasure is, there will your 
heart be also." (s) Hence it is, that faith is so scarce in the 
world ; because to our sluggishness nothing is more difficult 
than to ascend through innumerable obstacles, " pressing to- 
ward the mark, for the prize of the high calling." (t) To the 
accumulation of miseries which generally oppress us, are added 
the moci^eries of the profane, with which our simplicity is as- 
sailed ; while voluntarily renouncing the allurements of present 
advantage or pleasure, we seem to pursue happiness, which is 
concealed from our view, like a shadow that continually eludes 
our grasp. In a word, above and below, before and behind, we 
are beset by violent temptations, which our minds \fould long 
ago have been incapable of sustaining, if they had not been 
detached from terrestrial things, and attached to the heaven- 
ly life, which is apparently at a remote distance. He alone, 
therefore, has made a solid proficiency in the gospel who has 
been accustomed to continual meditation on the blessed resur- 
rection. 

n. The supreme good was a subject of anxious dispute, and 
even contention, among the ancient philosophers ; yet none of 
them, except Plato, acknowledged the chief good of man to 
consist in his union with God. But of the nature of this 
union he had not even the smallest idea ; and no wonder, for 
he was totally uninformed respecting the sacred bond of it. 
We know what is the only and perfect happiness even in this 
earthly pilgrimage ; but it daily inflames our heirts with in- 
creasing desires after it, till we shall be satisfied with its full 
fruition. Therefore I have observed that the cdvantage of 
Christ's benefits is solely enjoyed by those who elevate their 
aiinds to the resurrection. Thus Paul also sets beore believers 
this object, towards which he tells us he directs all his own 
efforts, forgetting every thing else, " if by any msans he may 
attain unto it." (w) And it behoves us to press forward to the 
same point with the greater alacrity, lest, if this \^orld engross 
our attention, we should be grievously punished ,br our sloth. 
He therefore characterizes believers by this mar];, •' Our con- 
versation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Sa- 
nour." (x) And that their minds may not flag ii this course, 

(«) 1 Peter i. 8, 9. (s) Matt. vi. 21. (u) Phil.iii. 8—11. 

(r)Col. i. 5. (i) Phil. iii. 14. (x) Phil.iii. 20. 



r,H4P. XXV.] CHKISTIAN RELIGION. 201 

he associates with them all creatures as their companions. 
For as ruin and deformity are visible on every side, he tells us 
that all things in heaven and earth are tending to renovation. 
For the fall of Adam having deranged the perfect order of 
nature, the bondage to which the creatures have been subject- 
ed by the sin of man is grievous and burdensome to them ; not 
that they are endued with any intelligence, but because they 
naturally aspn-e to the state of perfection from which they have 
fallen. Paul therefore attributes to them groaning and travail- 
ing pains, (y) that we who have received the first-fruits of the 
Spirit may be ashamed of remaining in our corruption, and not 
imitating at least the inanimate elements which bear the punish- j. 
ment of the sin of others But as a still stronger stimulus | 
to us, he calls the second advent of Christ "our redemption."! 
It is true, indeed, that all the parts of our redemption are 
already completed ; but because " Christ was once offered to 
bear the sins of many, he shall appear the second time without : 
sin unto salvation." {z) Whatever calamities oppress us, this | 
redemption should support us even till its full consummation. ' 

III. Let the importance of the object sharpen our pursuit. 
Paul justly argues, that " if there be no resurrection of the 
dead," the whole gospel is vain and fallacious ; for we should 
be "of all men the most miserable," being exposed to the 
hatred and reproaches of mankind, " standing in jeopardy 
every hour," (a) and being even like sheep destined to the 
slaughter ; and therefore its authority would fall to the ground 
not in one point only, but in every thing it contains relating to 
adoption and the accomplishment of our salvation. To this 
subject, the most important of all, let us give an attention 
never to be wearied by length of time. With this view I have 
deferred what I shall briefly say of it to this place, that the 
reader, after receiving Christ as the Author of complete salva- 
tion, may learn to soar higher, and may know that he is in- 
vested with heavenly glory and immortality, in order that the 
whole body may be conformed to the Head ; as in his person 1 1 1 
the Holy Spirit frequently gives an example of the resurrection. '' ' 
It is a_thing difficult to be believed, that bodies, after having 
been consumed by corruption, shall at length, at the appointed 
time, be raised again. Therefore, while many of the philoso- 
phers asserted the immortality of the soul, the resurrection .: 
of the body was admitted by few. And though this fur- 
nishes no excuse, yet it admonishes us that this truth is too 
difficult to command the assent of the human mind. To en- 
able faith to surmount so great an obstacle, the Scripture sup- 
plies us with two assistances : one consists in the similitude of 

(y) Rom. viii. li)— 23. (z) Heb. ix. 28. (a) 1 Cor. xv. 13, &c. 

VOL II. 2b 



202 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III. 

i Christ, the other in the nmnipotence of God. Now, whenever 
the resurrection is mentioned, let us set before us the image of 
Christ, who, in our nature, which he assumed, finished his 
course in this mortal life in such a manner, that, having n>w 
obtained immortality, he is the pledge of future resurrection to 
us. For in the afflictions that befall us, " we bear about in the 
body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus 
might be made manifest in our body." (6) And to separate 
him from us, is not lawful, nor indeed possible, without rend- 
ing him asunder. Hence the reasoning of Paul : '' If there be 
no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen ; " (c) for 
he assumes this as an acknowledged principle, that Christ 
neither fell under the power of death, nor triumphed over it in 
his resurrection, for himself as a private individual ; but that 
all this was a commencement in the Head of what must be 
fulfilled in all the members, according to every one's order and 
degree. For it would not be right, indeed, for them to be in 
all respects equal to him. It is said in the Psalms, "Thou 
wilt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." (d) Though 
a portion of this confidence belongs to us, according to the mea- 
sure bestowed upon us, yet^tjjeperfect accomplishment has been 

; seen in Christ alone, who had his body restored to him entire, 

I Tree from all corruption. Now that we may have no doubt 
of our fellowship with Christ in his blessed resurrection, and 
may be satisfied with this pledge, Paul expressly affirms that 

, the design of his session in heaven, and his advent in the cha- 
racter of Judge at the last day, is to " change our vile body, that 
it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." (e) In an 
other place also, he shows that God raised his Son from the 
dead, not in order to display a single specimen of his power, 
but to exert c-n believers the same energy of his Spirit, whom 
he therefore calls " our life " while he dwells in us, because 
he was given for this very purpose, " to quicken our mortal 
bodies." (/) I am but briefly glancing at things which would 
admit of a fuller discussion, and are deserving of more elegance 
of style ; but I trust the pious reader will find in a small com- 
pass sufficient matter for the edification of his faith. Christ, 
therefore, rose again, that we might be the companions of his 
future life. He was raised by the Father, inasmuch as he was 
the Head of the church, from which he does not suffer him to 
be separated. He was raised by the power of the Spirit, who is 
given to us also for the purpose of quickening us. In a word, 
he was raised that he might be " the resurrection and the life." 
But as we have observed that this mirror exhibits to us a lively 
image of our resurrection, so it will furnish a firm foundation 

(b) 2 Cor. iv. 10. (c) 1 Cor. xv. 13. (d) Psalm xvi. 10 

(«) Phil. iii. 21. (/) Col. iii. 4 Rom. viii. 11. 



CHAP. XXV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 203 

for our minds to rest upon, provided we are not wearied or dis- 
turbed by tiie long delay ; because it is not ours to measure 
the moments of time by our own inclination, but to wait pa- 
tiently for God's establishment of his kingdom in his own 
appointed time. To this purpose is the expression of Paul, 
"Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his 
coming." (g) But that no doubt might be entertained of the 
resurrection of Christ, on which the resurrection of us all is 
founded, we see in how many and various ways he has caused 
it to be attested to us. Scorners will ridicule the history nar- 
rated by the evangelists, as a childish mockery. For what 
weight, they ask, is there in the message brought by some 
women in a fright, and afterwards confirmed by the disciples 
half dead with fear ? Why does not Christ rather set up the 
splendid trophies of his victory in the midst of the temple and 
the public places ? Why does he not make a formidable en- 
trance into the presence of Pilate? Why does he not prove 
himself to be again alive, to the priests and all the inhabitants 
of Jerusalem ? Profane men will scarcely believe the persons 
selected by hinfto 'be'c'ompetent witnesses. I reply, notwith- 
standing the contemptible weakness evident in these begin-,: 
nings, yet all this was conducted by the admirable providence) 
of God, that they who were lately dispirited with fear, were \ 
hurried away to the sepulchre, partly by love to Christ and pious I 
zeal, partly by their own unbelief, not only to be eye-witnesses of 
the fact, but to hear from the angels the same as they saw with 
their eyes. How can we suspect the authority of those who 
considered what they heard from the women " as idle tales," 
till they had the fact clearly before them? (h) As to the peo- 
ple at large, and the governor himself, it is no wonder that 
after the ample conviction they had, they were denied a sight 
of Christ, or any other proofs. The sepulchre is sealed, a 
watch is set, the body is not found on the third day. The 
soldiers, corrupted by bribes, circulate a rumour that he was 
stolen away by his disciples ; («) as if they had power to collect 
a strong force, or were furnished with arms, or were even ac- 
customed to such a daring exploit. But if the soldiers had not 
courage enough to repulse them, why did they not pursue 
them, that with the assistance of the people they might seize 
some of them ? The truth is, therefore, that Pilate by his zeal 
attested the resurrection of Christ ; and the guards who were 
placed at the sepulchre, either by their silence or by their false- 
nood, were in reality so many heralds to publish the same fact. 
In the mean time, the voice of the angels loudly proclaimed, 
'He is not here, but is risen." (A:) Their celestial splendour 



S 



1 Cor. XV. 23. (i) Matt, xxvii. 66 ; xxviii. 11, &c. 

(fi) Luke xxiv. 11 (Ic) Luke xxiv. 4—6. Matt xxviii 3—6 



204 INSTITUTES OF THE [boOK 11/ 

evidently showed them to be angels, and not men. Aftei this, 
if there was any doubt still remaining, it was removed by 
Christ himself. More than once, his disciples saw, and even 
felt and handled him ; and their unbelief has eminently con- 
tributed to the confirmation of our faith. He discoursed among 
them concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and at 
length they saw him ascend to heaven, (l) Nor was this spec- 
tacle exhibited only to the eleven apostles, but " he was seen 
of above five hundred brethren at once." (m) By the mission 
of the Holy Spirit he gave an undeniable proof, not only of 
his life, but also of his sovereign dominion ; according to his 
prediction, " It is expedient for you that I go away ; for if I go 
not away, the Comforter will not corne unto you ; but if I de- 
part, I will send him unto you." (n) Paul, in his way to Da- 
mascus, was not prostrated to the ground by the influence of a 
dead man, but felt that the person whom he was opposing was 
armed with supreme power. He appeared to Stephen for an- 
other reason — to overcome the fear of death by an assurance 
of life, (o) To refuse credit to testimonies so numerous and 
authentic, is not diffidence, but perverse and unreasonable ob- 
stinacy. 

IV. The remark we have made, that in proving the resurrec- 
tion, our minds should be directed to the infinite power of God, 
is briefly suggested in these words of Paul : " Who shall 
change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his 
glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able 
even to subdue all things unto himself." (^) It would there- 
fore be extremely unreasonable here, to consider what could 
possibly happen in the ordinary course of nature, when the 
object proposed to us is an inestimable miracle, the magnitude 
of which absorbs all our faculties. Yet Paul adduces an ex- 
ample from nature to reprove the folly of those Avho deny the 
resurrection. " Thou fool," says he, " that which thou sowest 
is not quickened, except it die." (q) He tells us that seed 
sown displays an image of the resurrection, because the corn is 
reproduced from putrefaction. Nor would it be a thing so diffi- 
cult to believe, if we paid proper attention to the miracles 
which present themselves to our view in all parts of the world. 
But let us remember, that no man will be truly persuaded of 
the future resurrection, but he who is filled with admiration, 
and ascribes to the power of God the glory that is due to 
It. Transported with this confidence, Isaiah exclaims, " Thy 
dead men shall live ; together with my dead body shall they 
arise; awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust."(r) Surrounded 

'{) Acts i. 3, 9. (m) 1 Cor. xv. 6. (n) John xvi. 7. (o) Acts vii 55. 

(p) Phil, iii 21 («/) 1 Cor xv. 36 (r) Isaiah xxvi. 19. 



DHAP. XXV.] CHRISTIAX RELIGION. 205 

by desperate circumstances, he has recourse to God, the Author 
of life, unto whom, as the Psalmist says, " belong the issues 
from death." (s) Even reduced to a state resembling a dead 
carcass more than a living man, yet relying on the power of 
God, just as if he were in perfect health, Job looks forward 
without any doubts to that day. " I know," says he, " that 
my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day 
\ipon the earth," there to display his power; "and though after 
my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see 
God; whom I shall see for myself, and not another." (?) For 
though some persons employ great subtilty to pervert these 
texts, as if they ought not to be understood of the resurrection, 
they nevertheless confirm what they wish to destroy ; since 
holy men, in the midst of calamities, seek consolation from no 
other quarter than from the similitude of the resurrection ; 
which more fully appears from a passage in Ezekiel. (w) For 
when the Jews rejected the promise of their restoration, and 
objected, that there was no more probability of. a way being ' 
opened for their return, than of the dead coming forth from 
their sepulchres, a vision is presented to the prophet, of a field 
full of dry bones, and God commands them to receive flesh 
and nerves. Though this figure is intended to inspire the 
people with a hope of restoration, he borrows the argument for 
it from the resurrection ; as it is to us also the principal model 
of all the deliverances which believers experience in this 
world. So Christ, after having declared that the voice of the 
gospel communicates life, in consequence of its rejection by 
the Jews, immediately adds, "Marvel not at this ; for the hour 
is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear 
his voice, and shall come forth." (x) After the example of 
Paul, therefore, let us even now triumphantly exult in the 
midst of our conflicts, that he who has promised us a life to 
come " is able to keep that which we have committed to him ; " 
and thus let us glory that " there is laid up for us a crown of 
righteousness, which the righteous Judge shall give us." (yV 
The consequence of this will be, that all the troubles we suffer 
will point us to the life to come, " seeing it is a righteous thing 
with God," and agreeable to his nature, " to recompense tribu- 
lation to them that trouble us, and to us who are " unjustly 
"troubled, rest, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed, with his 
mighty angels, in flaming fire." (z) But we must remember 
what immediately follows, that " he shall come to be glorified 
in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe," be 
cause they believe the gospel. 



{s) Psalm Ixviii. 20. (u) Ezek. xxxvii. 1—14. (ij) 2 Tim. i. 12; it. 8. 

{t) Job xix. 25, 27. (x) John v. 28, 29. (2) 2 Thess. i. 6--8, 10 



206 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK Mi 

V. Now, though the minds of men ought to be continually 
occupied with the study of this subject, yet as if they expressly 
intended to abolish all remembrance of the resurrection, they 
have called death the end of all things, and the destruction of 
man. For Solomon certainly speaks according to a common 
uid received opinion, when he says, "A hving dog is better 
than a dead lion." (a) And again: " Who knows whether the 
spirit of man goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast goeth 
downward ? " (6) This brutish stupidity has infected all ages 
of the world, and even forced its way into the Church ; for the 
Saddiicees had the audacity publicly to profess, that there is 
no resurrection, and that souls are mortal. But that none 
might be excused by this gross ignorance, the very instinct of 
nature has always set before the eyes of unbelievers an image 
of the resurrection. For what is the sacred and inviolable cus- 
tom of interring the dead, but a pledge of another life ? Nor 
can it be objected that this originated in error ; for the rites of 
sepulture were always observed among the holy fathers ; and 
it pleased God that the same custom should be retained among 
the Gentiles, that their torpor might be roused by the image ot 
the resurrection thereby set before them. Though this cere- 
mony produced no good effects iipon them, yet it will be use- 
ful to us, if we wisely consider its tendency ; for it is no slight 
refutation of unbelief, that all united in professing a thing that 
none of them believed. But Satan has not only stupefied men's 
minds, to make them bury the memory of the resurrection 
together with the bodies of the dead, but has endeavoured to 
corrupt this point of doctrine by various fictions, with an ul- 
timate view to its total subversion. Not to mention that he 
began to oppose it in the days of Paul, not long after arose the 
Millenarians, who limited the reign of Christ to a thousand 
years.. Their fiction is too puerile to require or deserve refu- 
tation. Nor does the Revelation, which they quote in favour 
of their error, afford them any support ; for the term of a thou- 
sand years, there mentioned, (c) refers not to the eternal bless- 
edness of the Church, but to the various agitations which 
^awaited the Church in its militant state upon earth. But the 
I whole Scripture proclaims that there will be no end of the 
' happiness of the elect, or the punishment of the reprobate. 
Now, all those things which are invisible to our eyes, or far 
ibove the comprehension of our minds, must either be believed 
on the authority of the oracles of God, or entirely rejected. 
Those who assign the children of God a thousand years to en- 
joy the inheritance of the future life, little think what dis- 
honour they cast on Christ and his kingdom. For if they are 

<a) Eccl ix. 4. (6) Eccl. iii. 21. (*) Rev. xx. 4. 



CHAP. XXV.] CHR15TlA^ RELIGION. 207 

not invested with immortality, neither is Christ himself, into 
the likeness of whose glory they will be transformed, received 
up into immortal glory. If their happiness will have any end, 
it follows that the kingdom of Christ, on the stabiUty of which 
it rests, is temporary. Lastly, either these persons are ex- 
tremely ignorant of all Divine things, or they are striving, with 
malignant perverseness, to overturn all the grace of God and 
power of Christ ; and these can never be perfectly fulfilled till 
sin is abolished, and death swallowed up, and eternal life 
completely established. But the folly of being afraid that too 
much cruelty is attributed to God, if the reprobate are doomed 
to eternal punishment, is even evident to the blind. Will the 
Lord do any injury by refusing the enjoyment of his kingdom 
to persons whose ingratitude shall have rendered them unwor- 
thy of it ? But their sins are temporary. This I grant ; but i 
the majesty of God, as well as his justice, which their sins i 
have violated, is eternal. Their iniquity, therefore, is justly ; 
remembered. Then the punishment is alleged to be excessive, ' 
being disproportioned to the crime. But this is intolerable 
blasphemy, when the majesty of God is so httle valued, when 
the contempt of it is consiilered of no more consequence than 
the destruction of one soul. But let us pass by these triflers ; 
lest, contrary to what we have before said, we should appear 
to consider their reveries as worthy of refutation. 

VI. Beside these wild notions, the perverse curiosity of man 
has introduced two others. Some have supposed that the 
whole man dies, and that souls are raised again together with 
bodies ; others, admitting the immortality of souls, suppose they 
will be clothed with new bodies, and thereby deny the resur- 
rection of the flesh. As I have touched on the former of these 
notions in the creation of man, it will be sufficient again to 
apprize my readers, that it is a brutish error, to represent the 
spirit, formed after the image of God, as a fleeting breath which 
animates the body only during this perishable life, and to anni- 
hilate the temple of the Holy Spirit ; in short, to despoil that 
part of us in which Divinity is eminently displayed, and the 
characters of immortality are conspicuous, of this property ; so 
that the condition of the body must be better and more excel- 
lent than that of the soul. Very different is the doctrine of 
Scripture, which compares the body to a habitation, from which 
we depart at death ; because it estimates us by that part of our 
nature which constitutes the distinction between us and the 
brutes. Thus Peter, when near his death, says, '' Shortly 1 
must put off this my tabernacle." (d) And Paul, speaking of 
believers, having said that " if our earthly house of this taber- 

(d) 2 Peter i. 14. 



208 INSTITUTES OF THk. [bOOK lit 

nacle were dissolved, we have a building in the heavens," adds 
that " whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from 
the Lord, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to 
be present with the Lord." (e) Unless our souls survive om 
bodies, what is it that is present with God when separated from 
the body ? But the apostle removes all doubt when he says 
that we are "come to the spirits of just men made perfect." (/) 
By which expression he means, that we are associated with th( 
holy fathers, who, though dead, still maintain the same piety 
with us, so that we cannot be members of Christ without being 
united with them. If souls separated from bodies did not retain 
their existence so as to be capable of glory and felicity, Christ 
would not have said to the thief, " To-day shalt thou be with 
me in paradise." (g) Supported by such undeniable testimo- 
nies, let us not hesitate, after the example of Christ, when we 
die, to commend our spirits to God ; or, like Stephen, to resign 
*hem to the care of Christ, who is justly called the faithful 
" Shepherd and Bishop of souls." Over-curious inquiry re- 
specting their intermediate slate is neither lawful nor useful. 
Many persons exceedingly perplex themselves by discussing 
what place they occupy, and whether they already enjoy the 
glory of heaven, or not. But it is folly and presumption to 
push our inquiries on unknown things beyond what God jDer- 
mits us to know. The Scripture declares that Christ is present 
with them, and receives them into paradise, where they enjoy 
consolation, and that the souls of the reprobate endure the tor- 
ments which they have deserved ; but it proceeds no further. 
Now, what teacher or doctor shall discover to us that which God 
has concealed ? The question respecting place is equally senseless 
and futile ; because we know that the soul has no dimensions 
like the body. The blessed assemblage of holy spirits being 
called the bosom of Abraham, teaches us that it is enough for 
us, at the close of this pilgrimage, to be received by the common 
Father of believers, and to participate with him in the fruit of 
his faith. In the mean while, as the Scripture uniformly com- 
mands us to look forward with eager expectation to the coming 
of Christ, and defers the crown of glory which awaits us till 
that period, let us be content within these limits which God 
prescribes to us — that the souls of pious men, after finishing 
their laborious warfare, depart into a state of blessed rest, 
where they wait with joy and pleasure for the fruition of the 
promised glory ; and so, that all things remain in suspense till 
Christ appears as the Redeemer. And there is no doubt that 
the condition of the reprobate is the same as .Tude assigns to 
the devils, who are confined and bound in chains till they are 
brought forth to the pimishment to which they are doomed. 

(e) 2 Cor. v. 1, 8. (/) Heb. xii. 23. («■) Luke xxiii. 43. 



CHAP. XXV.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 5209 

VII. Equally monstrous is the error of those who imagine 
that souls will not resume the bodies which at present belong to 
them, but will be furnished with others altogether different. It 
was the very futile reasoning of the Manichaeans, that it is absurd 
to expect that the flesh which is so impure will ever rise again. 
As if there were no impurity attached to the souls, which they 
nevertheless encouraged to entertain hopes of a heavenly life 
It was therefore just as if they had maintained, that any thing 
infected with the contagion of sin is incapable of being purified 
by the power of God ; for that reverie, that the flesh was cre- 
ated by the devil, and therefore naturally impure, I at present 
forbear to notice ; and only observe, that whatever we have in 
us now unworthy of heaven, will not hinder the resurrection. 
In the first place, when Paul exhorts believers to "cleanse" 
themselves " from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit," (h) 
thence follows the judgment he elsewhere denounces, " that 
every one " shall " receive the things done in his body, accord- 
ing to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad ; " (i) with 
which agrees another passage, " that the life also of Jesus 
might be made manifest in our body." (k) Wherefore in an- 
other place, he prays to God that the whole person may " be 
preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," 
even the "body," as well as the "soul and spirit." (^) And no 
wonder ; for that those bodies which God has dedicated as 
temples for himself, should sink into corruption, without any 
hope of resurrection, would be absurd in the extreme. What 
is to be concluded from their being members of Christ ? (m) 
from God's enjoining every part of them to be sanctified to 
himself, requiring their tongues to celebrate his name, their 
hands to be lifted up with purity to him, (n) and their bodies 
altogether to be presented to him as "living sacrifices? " (o) 
This part of our nature therefore being dignified with such illus- 
trious honour by the heavenly Judge, what madness is betrayed 
by a mortal man, in asserting it to be reduced to ashes without 
any hope of restoration ! And Paul, when he gives us this 
exhortation, " Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, 
which are God's," (p) certainly does not countenance consign- 
ing to eternal corruption that which he asserts to be consecrated 
to God. Nor is there any point more clearly established in 
Scripture, than the resurrection of our present bodies. " This 
corruptible," says Paul, " must put on incorruption, and this 
mortal must put on immortality." {q) If new bodies were to 
be formed by God, what would become of this change of 
:VJality ? If it had been said, t|iat we must be renewed, the 

(A) 2 Cor. vii. 1. (/) 1 Thess. v. 23. (o) Rom. xn. 1. 

(t) 2 Cor. V. 10. (m) 1 Cor. vi. 15. (p) 1 Cor. vi. 20. 

(A) 2 Cor. iv. 10. (n) 1 Tim. ii. 8. (?) 1 Cor. xv. 54 

VOL. II. 27 



210 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 111 

ambiguity of the expression might have given occasion for 
cavil : now, when he particularly designates the bodies that 
surround us, and promises that they shall be " raised in incor- 
ruption," it is a sufficient denial of the formation of new ones. 
" He could not indeed," says Tertullian, "have spoken more ex- 
pressly, unless he had held his own skin in his hand." Nor will 
any cavil evade the declaration of Isaiah, cited by the apostle, 
respecting Christ as the future Judge of the world : " As I live, 
saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me ; " (r) for he plainly 
declares to the persons addressed by him, that they shall be 
obliged to give an account of their lives ; which would not be 
reasonable, if new bodies were to be placed at the tribunal. 
There is no obscurity in the language of Daniel : " Many of 
them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to 
everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting con- 
tempt." (s) For God does not collect fresh materials from the 
four elements for the fabrication of men, but calls the dead out 
of their :sepulchres. And this the plainest reason dictates. 
For if death, which originated in the fall of man, be adventi- 
tious, and not necessary to our nature, the restoration effected 
by Christ belongs to the same body which was thus rendered 
mortal. From the ridicule of the Athenians, when Paul assert- 
ed the resurrection, it is easy to infer the nature of his doc- 
trine , tend that ridicule is of no small weight for the confirmation 
of oar faith. The injunction of Christ also is worthy of atten- 
tion : " Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to 
Kill the soul ; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both 
soul and body in hell." (t) For there would be no reason for 
this fear, if the body which we now carry about were not 
liable to punishment. Another of Christ's declarations is equal- 
ly plain : " The hour is coming, in the which all that are in 
the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that 
have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that 
have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (u) Shall 
we say that souls rest in graves, and will there hear the voice 
of Christ, and not rather that bodies at his command will return 
to the vigour they had lost ? Besides, if we are to receive new 
bodies, where will be the conformity between the Head and 
members ? Christ rose ; was it by making himself a new 
body ? No, but according to his prediction, " Destroy this 
temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (x) The mortal 
body which he before possessed, he again assumed. For 
it would have conduced but little to our benefit, if there 
had been a substitution of a new body, and an annihilation of 



<r) Rom. xiv. 11, 12. (s) Dtn. xii. 2. (t) Matt. x. 28. 

(u) John V. 28, 29. (j John ii. 19. 



CHAP. XXV^.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 211 

that which had been offered as an atoning sacrifice. We must, 
therefore, maintain the connection stated by the apostle — that 
we shall rise, because Christ has risen ; (y) for nothing is more 
improbable, than that our body, m which " we bear about the 
dying of the Lord Jesus," (z) should be deprived of a resurrec- 
tion smiilar to his. There was an illustrious example of this 
immediately on Christ's resurrection, when "the graves were 
opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose." (a) 
For it cacnot be denied, that this was a prelude, or rather an 
earnest, of the final resurrection, which we expect ; such as 
was exl.ibited before in Enoch and Elias, whom Tertullian 
speaks of as "the candidates of the resurrection," because they 
were taken into the immediate care of God, with an entire ex- 
emption from corruption in body and soul. 

YIII. I am ashamed of consuming so many words on so 
clear a subject ; but my readers will cheerfully unite with me in 
submitting to this trouble, that no room may be left for men of 
perverse and presumptuous minds to deceive the unwary. The 
unsteady spirits I am now opposing, bring forward a figment of 
their own brains, that at the resurrection there will be a creation 
of new bodies. What reason can induce them to adopt this 
.5entiment, but a seeming incredibility, in their apprehension, 
that a body long consumed by corruption can ever return to its 
pristine state? Unbelief, therefore, is the only source of this 
opinion. In the Scripture, on the contrary, we are uniformly 
exhorted by the Spirit of God to hope for the resurrection of 
our body. For this reason, baptism is spoken of by Paul as a 
seal of our future resurrection ; (6) and we are as clearly invited 
to this confidence by the sacred Supper, when we receive into 
our mouths the symbols of spiritual grace. And certainly the 
exhortation of Paul, to "yield our members as instruments 
of righteousness unto God," (c) would lose all its force, if 
unaccompanied by what he afterwards subjoins : "He that 
raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal 
bodies." (d) For what would it avail to devote our feet, hands, 
eyes, and tongues to the service of God, if they were not to 
participate the benefit and reward ? This is clearly confirmed 
by the following passage of Paul : " The body is not for for- 
nication, but for the Lord ; and the Lord for the body. And 
God hath both raised up the L/ord, and will also raise up us by 
his own power." (e) The following passages are still plainer — 
that our bodies are the " temples of the Holy Ghost," and 
" members of Christ." (/) In the mean time, we see how he 
connects the resurrection with chastity and holiness ; and so 

(y) 1 Cor XV. 12, &c. (6) Col. ii. 12. (e) 1 Cor. vi. 13, 14. 

(2) 2 Cor iv. 10. (c) Rom. vi. 13. (/) 1 Cor. vi. 15, 19, 20. 

(a) Matt. xxvi. 52. (d) Rom. viii. 11 



212 INSTITUTES or THE [bOOK III. 

he just after extends the price of redemption to our bodies 
Now, it would be extremely unreasonable that the body of Paul, 
in which he "bore the marks of the Lord Jesus," (^) and m 
which he eminently glorified Christ, should be deprived of the 
reward of the crown. Hence also that exultation : " We look 
for the Saviour from heaven, who shall change our vile body, 
that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." (h) And 
if it be true, " that we must through much tribulation enter 
into the kingdom of God," (i) there can be no reason for pro- 
hibiting this entrance to the bodies, which God trains under the 
banner of the cross, and honours with the glory of victory. 
Therefore no doubt has ever been entertained by the sauits, 
whether they should hope to be companions of Christ here- 
after ; who transfers to his own person all the afflictions with 
which we are tried, to teach us that they are conducting us to life. 
And God also established the holy fathers under the law in this 
faith by an external ceremony. For to what purpose was the 
rite of sepulture, as we have already seen, but to instruct them 
that another life was prepared for the interred bodies ? The 
same was suggested by the spices and other symbols of immor- 
tality, which, like the sacrifices under the law, assisted the 
obscurity of direct instruction. Nor did this custom arise from 
superstition ; for we find the Holy Spirit £is diligent in mention- 
ing the sepultures, as in insisting on the principal mysteries of 
faith. And Christ commends this as no mean office ; (k) certainly 
for no other reason, but because it raises our eyes from the view 
of the grave, which corrupts and dissolves all things, lo the spec- 
tacle of future renovation. Besides the very careful observance 
of this ceremony, which is commended in the fathers, suffi- 
ciently proves it to have been an excellent and valuable as- 
sistance to faith. Nor would Abraham have discovered such 
solicitous concern about the sepulchre of his wife, if he had not 
been actuated by motives of religion, and the prospect of more 
than worldly advantage ; that by adorning her dead body with 
the emblems of the resurrection, he might confirm his own faith, 
and that of his family, (l) There is yet a clearer proof of this 
in the example of Jacob ; who, to testify to his posterity that 
the hope of the promised land did not forsake his heart even in 
death, commands his bones to be reconveyed thither, (m) If he 
was to be furnished with a new body, would not this have been 
a ridiculous command concerning dust that was soon to be an- 
nihilated? Wherefore, if the authority of the Scripture has 
any weight with us, no clearer or stronger proof of any doctrine 
3an possibly be desired. Even children understand this to be 

{g) Gal. vi. 17. (i) Acts xiv. 22. (l) Gen. xxiii. 3—19 

(h) Phil. iii. 20, 21. (k) Matt. xxvi. 10, 12. (m) Gen. xlvii. 30. 



CHAP XXV. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 213 

the meaning of the term " resurrection ; " for we never apply 
this term to any instance of original creation ; nor would it be 
consistent with that declaration of Christ, " Of all which the Fa- 
ther hath given me, T shall lose nothing, but will raise it up again 
at the last day." (n) The same is implied in the word " sleeping," 
which is only applicable to the body. Hence the appellation of 
cemetery, or sleeping-place, given to places of burial. It remains 
for me to touch a little on the manner of the resurrection. And 
1 shall but just hint at it ; because Paul, by calling it a mystery, 
exhorts us to sobriety, and forbids all licentiousness of subtle 
and extravagant speculation. In the first place, let it be re-? / 
membered, as we have observed, that we,. jhall rise again with| 
the same bodies we have now, as to tlie"substance, but that thpi 
'qiiality will be different^ust as the very body of Christ which* 
Tiad been offerecTasa sacrifice was raised again, but with such ; 
new and superior qualities, as though it had been altogether 
jdifferent. Paul represents this by some familiar examples. 
"Por as the flesh of man and of brutes is the same in substance, 
but not in quality ; as the matter of all the stars is the same, but 
they differ in glory ; so, though we shall retain the substance of 
our body, he tells us there will be a change, which will render 
its condition far more excellent, (o) The " corruptible " body, 
therefore, will neither perish nor vanish, in order to our resur- 
rection ; but having laid aside corruption, will " put on incorrup- 
tion." (p) God, having all the elements subject to his control, 
will find no difficulty in commanding the earth, the water, and the 
fire, to restore whatever they appear to have consumed. This 
is declared in figurative language by Isaiah : " Behold, the Lord 
cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth 
for their iniquity ; the earth also shall disclose her blood, ana 
shall no more cover her slain." (q) But we must remark the 
difference between those who shall have been already dead, and 
those whom that day shall find alive. " We shall not all sleep," 
says Paul, "but we shall all be changed ;"(r) that is, there 
will be no necessity for any distance of time to intervene be- 
tween death and the commencement of the next life ; for " in 
a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the trumpet shall sound, 
and the dead shall be raised incorruptible," and the living 
transformed by a sudden change into the same glory. So in 
another Epistle he comforts believers who were to die, that those 
" which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, snail 
not prevent them which are asleep," but that " the dead in 
Christ shall rise first." (s) If it be objected that the apostle 
says, " It is appointed unto men once to die," (t) the answer is 

(n) John vi. 39, 40. (q) Isaiah xxvi. 21. (s) 1 Thess. iv. 15, 16. 

(o) 1 Cor. XV. 39—41 (r) 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. (t) Heb. ix. 27. 

(p) 1 Cor. XV. 53. 



214 INSTITUTES or THE BOOK 1. 

easy, — that where the state of the nature is changed, it is a 
species of death, and may without impropriety be so called • 
and therefore there is a perfect consistence between these 
things, that all will be removed by death when they put off 
the mortal body, but that a separation of the body and soul 
will not be necessary, where there will be an instantaneous 
change. 

IX. But here arises a question of greater difficulty. How 
can the resurrection, which is a peculiar benefit of Christ, be 
common to the impious and the subjects of the Divine curse ? 
We know that in Adam all were sentenced to death ; (u) Christ 
comes as " the resurrection and the life ; " (x) but was it to 
bestow life promiscuously on all mankind ? But what would 
be more improbable, than that they should attain, in their ob- 
stinate blindness, what the pious worshippers of God recover 
by faith alone ? Yet it remains certain, that one will be a re- 
surrection to judgment, the other to life ; and that Christ v/ill 
come to "separate the sheep from the goats." [y) I reply, we 
ought not to think that so very strange, which we see exem- 
plified in our daily experience. We know that in Adam we 
lost the inheritance of the whole world, and have no more 
right to the enjoyment of common aliments, than to the fruit 
of the tree of life. How is it, then, that God not only " maketh 
his sun to rise on the evil and on the good," (z) but that, for 
the accommodations of the present life, his inestimable liberality 
is diffused in the most copious abundance ? Hence we see, 
that things which properly belong to Christ and his members, 
are also extended to the impious ; not to become their leg.iti- 
mate possession, but to render them more inexcusable. Thus 
impious men frequently experience God's beneficence in re- 
markable instances, which sometimes exceed all the blessings 
of the pious, but which, nevertheless, are the means of aggra- 
vating their condemnation. If it be objected, that the resur- 
rection is improperly compared with fleeting and terrestrial 
advantages, I reply again, that when men were first alienated 
from God, the Fountain of life, they deserved the ruin of the 
devil, to be altogether destroyed ; yet the wonderful counsel of 
God devised a middle state, that without life they might live 
in death. It ought not to be thought more unreasonable, if the 
impious are raised from the dead, in order to be dragged to the 
tribunal of Christ, whom they now refuse to hear as their Mas- 
ter and Teacher. For it would be a slight punishment to be 
: destroyed by death, if they were not to be brought before the 
\ Judge whose infinite and endless vengeance they have in- 
'curred, to receive the punishments due to their rebellion. But 

tv) Rom V. 12. (z) John xi. 25 (y) Matt. xxv. 32 (z) Matt. v. ih 



CHAP. XXV. J CHRISTIAN REl.IOJON. 216 

though we must maintain what we have asseited, and what 
is asserted by Paul in his celebrated confession before Felix, 
" that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just 
and unjust," (a) yet the Scripture more commonly exhibits thei 
resurrection to the children of God alone, in connection with thdj 
glory of heaven ; because, strictly speaking, Christ will come, 
not for the destruction of the world, but for purposes of salva- 
tion. This is the reason that the Creed mentions only the lifo 
of blessedness. 

X. But, as the prophecy of "death being swallowed up in 
victory," shall then, and not till then, be fully accomplished, — 
let us always reflect on eternal felicity as the end of the resur- 
rection ; of the excellence of which, if every thing /ere said 
thai could be expressed by all the tongues of men, yet the 
smallest part of it would scarcely be mentioned. For though 
we are plainly informed, that the kingdom of God is full of 
light, joy, felicity, and glory, yet all that is mentioned remains 
far above our comprehension, and enveloped, as it were, in 
enigmatical obscurity, till the arrival of that day, when he shall 
exhibit his glory to us face to face. " Now are we the sons of 
God, (says John,) and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; 
but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like 
him ; for we shall see him as he is." (b) Wherefore the 
prophets, because they could not describe that spiritual bless- 
edness by any terms expressive of its sublime nature, generally 
represented it under corporeal images. Yet, as any intimation 
of that happiness must kindle in us a fervour of desire, let us 
chiefly dwell on this reflection — If God, as an inexhaustible 
fountain, contains within himself a plenitude of all blessings, 
nothing beyond him can ever be desired by those who aspire 
to the supreme good, and a perfection of happiness. This we 
are taught in various passages of Scripture. " Abraham," says 
God, "I am thy exceeding great reward." (c) With this 
David agrees : " The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance ; 
the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places." (d) Again : 
" I will behold thy face ; T shall be satisfi^." (e) Peter de- 
clares, that believers are called, •' that they might be partakers 
of the Divine nature." (/) How will this be ? Because " he 
shall be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that 
believe." (g) If the Lord will make the elect partakers of his 
glory, strength, and righteousness, and will even bestow him- 
self upon them to be enjoyed, and, what is better than this, to 
be in some sense united to them, — let us remember, that in 
this favour every kind of felicity is comprised. And after we 



(o) Acts xxiv. 15. (b) 1 John iii. 2. (c) Ger. xv. 1 (d) Psalm ivi. 5, 6 

(e) Psalm xvii. 15. (/) 2 Peter i, 4. (g) 2 Thess. i. 10 



216 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK III 

have made considerable progress in this meditation, we may 
still acknowledge the conceptions of our minds to be extremely 
low, in comparison with the sublimity of this mystery. So- 
briety, therefore, is the more necessary for us on this subject, 
lest, forgetful of our slender capacity, we presumptuously soar 
to too high an elevation, and are overwhelmed with the blaze 
of celestial glory. We perceive, likewise, how we are actua- 
ted by an inordinate desire of knowing more than is right ; 
which gives rise to a variety of questions, both frivolous and 
pernicious. I call those frivolous, from which no advantage 
can possibly be derived. But those of the second class are 
worse, involving persons, who indulge them, in injurious spe- 
culations, and therefore I call them pernicious. What is taught 
in the Scriptures, we ought to receive without any controversy ; 
that as God, in the various distribution of his gifts to the saints 
in this world, does not equally enlighten them all, so in heaven, 
where God will crown those gifts, there will be an inequality in 
the degrees of their glory. The language of Paul is not indis- 
criminately applicable to all — - " Ye are our glory and joy at our 
Lord's coming ; " (h) nor Christ's address to his apostles — " Ye 
shall sit judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (?) But Paul, who 
knew that according as God enriches the saints with spiritual 
gifts on earth, so he adorns them with glory in heaven, doubts 
not that there is in reserve for him a peculiar crown in propor- 
tion to his labours. And Christ commends to his apostles the 
dignity of the office with which they were invested, by assur- 
ing them that the reward of it was laid up in heaven, (k) 
Thus also Daniel : " They that be wise, shall shine as the 
brightness of the firmament ; and they that turn many to right- 
eousness, as the stars, for ever and ever." (I) And an atten- 
tive consideration of the Scriptures will convince us, that they 
not only promise eternal life generally to believers, but also a 
special reward to each individual. Whence that expression of 
Paul — "The Lord reward him according to his works." (m) 
It is also confirmed by the promise of Christ that his disciples 
should receive a hundred-fold more in eternal life, (n) In a 
word, as Christ begins the glory of his body by a manifold 
variety of gifts in this world, and enlarges it by degrees, in the 
same manner he will also perfect it in heaven. 

XL As all the pious will receive this with one consent, be 
;ause it is sufficiently attested in the word of God, so, on the 
other hand, dismissing abstruse questions, which they know 
to be obstructions to them, they will not transgress the limits 
prescribed to them. For myself, I not only refram as an indi- 

(A) 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20. (k) Matt. v. 12. (m) 2 Tim. iv. 14. 

(i) Matt. X x. 29. (I) Dan. xii. 3. (n) Matt. xix. 29. 



CHAP. XXV J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 217 

vidiial from the unnecessary investigation of useless questions, 
but think it my duty to be cautious, lest I encourage the vanity 
of others by answering them. Men, thirsting after useless know- 
ledge, inquire what will be the distance between the prophets 
and apostles, and between the apostles and martyrs ; and how 
many degrees of difference there will be between those who 
have married and those who have lived and died in celibacy ; 
in short, they leave not a corner of heaven unexplored. The 
next object of their inquiry is, what end will be answered by 
the restoration of th? world ; since the children of God will 
want nothing of all its vast and incomparable abundance, but 
will be like the angels of God, whose freedom from all animal 
necessities is the symbol of eternal blessedness. I reply, there 
will be such great pleasantness in the very prospect, and such 
exquisite sweetness in the mere knowledge, without any use 
of it, that this felicity will far exceed all the accommodations 
afforded us in the present state. Let us suppose ourselves placed 
in some region the most opulent in the world, and furnished 
with every pleasure ; who would not sometimes be prevented 
by disease from making use of the bounties of God ? who 
would not often have his enjoyment of them interrupted by the 
consequences of intemperance ? Hence it follows, that calm and 
serene enjoyment, pure from every vice and free from all defect, 
although there should be no use of a corruptible life, is the per- 
fection of happiness. Others go further, and inquire, whether 
dross and all impurities in metals are not removed from that 
restoration, and incompatible with such a state. Though I in 
some measure grant this, I expect, with Paul, a reparation of 
all the evils caused by sin, for which he represents the creatures as 
groaning and travailing. They proceed further still, and inquire, 
what better state awaits the human rac^., when the blessing of 
posterity shall no longer be enjoyed. The solution of this 
question also is easy. The splendid cOinmendations of it in 
the Scriptures relate to that progressive increase, by which God 
is continually carrying forward the system of nature to its con- 
summation. But as the unwary are easily caught by such 
temptations, and are afterwards drawn further into the labyrinth, 
till, at length, every one being pleased with his own opinion, 
there is no end to disputes, — the best and shortest rule for our 
conduct, is to content ourselves with " seeing through a glass 
darkly,'- till we shall "see face to face." (o) For very few 
persons are concerned about the way that leads to heaven, but 
all are anxious to know, before the time, what passes there. 
Men in general are slow, and reluctant to engage in the conflict, 
and yet portray to themselves imaginary triumphs. 

(o) 1 Cor. xiii. 12. 
VOL. II. 28 



h 



218 INSTITUTE* OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. [bOOK Hi 

XII. Now, as no description can equal the severity of the 
Divine vengeance on the reprobate, their anguish and torment 
are figuratively represented to us under corporeal images ; as, 
darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth, unextinguishable fire, 
a worm incessantly gnawing the heart, (p) For there can be 
no doubt but that, by such modes of expression, the Holy Spirit 
intended to confound all our faculties with horror ; as when it 
is said, that " Tophet is ordained of old ; the pile thereof is fire 
and much wood : the breath of the Lord, like a stream of 
brimstone, doth kindle it." (q) As these representations 
should assist us in forming some conception of the wretched 
condition of the wicked, so they ought principally to fix our 
attention on the calamity of being alienated from the presence 
of God ; and in addition to this, experiencing such hostility 
from the Divine majesty as to be unable to escape from 
Its contiimal pursuit. For, in the first place, his indignation 
is like a most violent flame, which devours and consumes all 
that it touches. In the next place, all the creatures so subserve 
the execution of his judgment, that those to whom the Lord 
will thus manifest his wrath, will find the heaven, the earth, 
and the sea, the animals, and all that exists, inflamed, as it were, 
with dire indignation against them, and all armed for their 
destruction. It is no trivial threatening, therefore, denounced 
by the apostle, that unbelievers " shall be punished with ever- 
lasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the 
glory of his power." (r) And when the prophets excite terror 
by corporeal figures, though they advance nothing hyperbolical 
for our dull understandings, yet they mingle preludes of the 
future judgment with the sun, the moon, and the whole fabric 
of the world. Wherefore miserable consciences find no repose, 
but are harassed and agitated with a dreadful tempest, feel 
themselves torn asunder by an angry God, and, transfixed and 
penetrated by mortal stings, are terrified at the thunderbolts of 
God, and broken by the weight of his hand : so that to sink 
into any gulfs and abysses would be more tolerable than to 
stand for a moment in these terrors. How great and severe, 
then, is the punishment, to endure the never ceasing effects of 
his wrath ! On which subject there is a memorable passage 
in the ninetieth psalm ; that though by his countenance he 
scatters all mortals, and turns them to destruction, yet he en- 
courages his servants in proportion to their timidity in this world, 
to excite them, though under the burden of the cross, to press 
forward, till he shall be all in all. 



(p) Matt. iii. 12, viii. 12; xxii. 13. Mark ix. 43, 44. Isaiah Ixvi. 24. 
(g) Isaiah xxx. 33. (r) 2 These, i. 9. 



INSTITUTES 



CHRISTIAN RELIGION 



BOOK IV 



on THE EXTERNAL MEANS OR AIDS BY WHICH GOD CALLS 
US INTO COMMUNION WITH CHRIST, AND RETAINS US IN IT 



ARGUMENT. 



Three parts of the Apostles' Creed, respecting God the Creator, Re- 
deemer, and Sanctifier, have been explained in the former books. 
This last book is an exposition of what remains, relating to the Holy 
-QgJ^wlic Churchy and the Communion of Saints., 

The chapters contained in it may be conveniently arranged in three 
grand divisions : — 

I. The Church. 

II. "The Sacraments. 

III. Civil Government. 

The First Division, extending to the end of the thirteenth chapter. 

contains many particulars, which, however, may all be referred tc 

four principal heads : — 
I The marks of the Church, or the criteria by which it may be dis 

tinguished ; since we must cultivate union with it — Chap. I. IT. 
II. The government of the church — Chap. III. — VII. 

1. The order of government in the church — Chap. III. 

2. The form practised by the ancient Christians — Chap. IV. 

3. The nalure of the preseni ecclesiastical government ander tha 



220 ARGUMENT. [bOOK 17 

Papacy — Chap. V. The primacy of the Pope — Chap. VI. And 
the degrees of his advancement to this tyrannical power — 
Chap. VII. 

III. The power of the church— Chap. VIIL— XL 

1. Relating to articles of faith, — which resides either in the re- 
spective bishops — Chap. VIII. — or in the church at large, 
represented in councils — Chap. IX. 

2. In making laws — Chap. X. 

3. In ecclesiastical jurisdiction — Chap. XI. 

IV. The discipline of the Church— Chap. XII. XIII. 

1. The principal use of it — Chap. XII. 

2. The abuse of it— Chap. XIII. 

The Second Division, relating to the sacraments, contains three parts 

I. The sacraments in general — Chap. XIV. 

II Each sacrament in particular — Chap. XV. — XVIII. 

1. Baptism — Chap. XV. Distinct discussion of Psedobaptism — 
Chap. XVI. 

2. The Lord's Supper — Chap. XVII. — and its profanation- 
Chap. XVIII. 

III. The five other ceremonies, falsely called sacraments — Chap. XIX, 

The Third Division regards civil government. 

I. This government in general. 

II. Its respective branches. 

1. The magistrates. 

2. The laws. 

3. The people. 



CHAPTER L 

THE TRUE CHURCH AND THE NECESSITY OF OUR UNION WITH 
HER, BEING THE MOTHER OF ALL THE PIOUS. 

That by the faith of the gospel Christ becomes ours, and 
■we become partakers of the salvation procured by him, and of 
eternal happiness, has been explained in the preceding Book. 
But as our ignorance and slothful ness, and, I may add, the 
vanity of our minds, require external aids, in order to the pro- 
duction of faith in our hearts, and its increase and progressive 
advance even to its completion, God has provided such aids in 
compassion to our infirmity ; and that the preaching of the 



CHAP, l.J INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 221 

gospel might be maintained, he has deposited this treasure 
with the Church. He has appointed pastors and teachers, that 
his people might be taught by their lips ; he has invested them 
with authority ; in short, he has omitted nothing that could 
contribute to a holy unity of faith, and to the establishment of 
good order, (a) First of all, he has instituted Sacraments,^ I 
which we know by experience to be means of the greatest | 
utility for the nourishment and support of our faith. For as, 
during our confinement in the prison of our flesh, we have not 
yet attained to the state of angels, God has, in his wonderful 
providence, accommodated himself to our capacity, by pre- 
scribing a way in which we might approach him, notwithstand- • 
ing our immense distance from him. Wherefore the order of 
instruction requires us now to treat of the Church and its gov- 
ernment, orders, and power; secondly, of the Sacraments; and 
astly, of Civil Government : and at the same time to call off 
the pious readers from the abuses of the Papacy, by which 
Satan has corrupted every thing that God had appointed to be 
instrumental to our salvation. I shall begin with the Church, 
in whose bosom it is God's will that all his children should be 
collected, not only to be nourished by her assistance and minis- 
try during their infancy and childhood, but also to be governed 
by her maternal care, till they attain a mature age, and at length 
reach the end of their faith. For it is not lawful to " put asun- 
der " those things " which God hath joined together ; " (b) that 
the Church is the mother of all those who have him for their 
Father ; and that not only under the law, but since the coming 
of Christ also, according to the testimony of the apostle, who 
declares the new and heavenly Jerusalem to be " the mother 
of us all." (c) 

II. That article of the Creed, in which we profess to believe 
THE Church, refers not only to the visible Church of which we 
are now speaking, but likewise to all the elect of God, inclu- 
ding the dead as well as the living. The word believe is used, 
because it is often impossible to discover any difference between 
the children of God and the ungodly , between his peculiai 
flock and wild beasts. The particle is, interpolated by many, 
is not supported by any probable reason. I confess that it is 
generally adopted at present, and is not destitute of the suffrage 
of antiquity, being found in the Nicene Creed, as it is trans- 
mitted to us in ecclesiastical history. Yet it is evident from 
the writings of the fathers, that it was anciently admitted 
without controversy to say, " I believe the Church," not " in 
the Chprch." For not only is this word not used by Augustine 
and the ancient writer of the work " On the Exposition of the 

(a) I.phes. iv. 11— IG. (b) Mark x. 9. (c) Gal. iv 26 



222 INS»riTUTJjS OF THE [bOOK IT 

Creed," which passes under the name of Cyprian, but they 
particularly remark that there would be an impropriety in the 
expression, if this preposition were inserted ; and they confirm 
their opinion by no trivial reason. For we declare that we be- 
lieve in God because our mind depends upon him as true, and 
our confidence rests in him. But this would not be applicable 
to the Church, any more than to " the remission of sins," or 
the "resurrection of the body." Therefore, though I am 
averse to contentions about words, yet I would rather adopt a 
proper phraseology adapted to express the subject than affect 
forms of expression by which the subject would be unnecessa- 
rily involved in obscurity. The design of this clause is to 
teach us, that though the devil moves every engine to destroy 
the grace of Christ, and all the enemies of God exert the most 
furious violence in the same attempt, yet his grace cannot 
possibly be extinguished, nor can his blood be rendered barren, 
so as not to produce some fruit. Here we must regard both 
the secret election of God, and his internal vocation ; because 
he alone " knoweth them that are his ; " and keeps them en- 
closed under his " seal," to use the expression of Paul ; (rf) 
except that they bear his impression, by which they may be 
distinguished from the reprobate. But because a small and 
contemptible number is concealed among a vast multitude, and 
a few grains of wheat are covered with a heap of chaff, we 
must leave to God alone the knowledge of his Church whose 
foundation is his secret election. Nor is it sufficient to in- 
clude in our thoughts and minds the whole multitude of the 
elect, unless we conceive of such a unity of the Church, into 
which we know ourselves to be truly ingrafted. For unless 
we are united with all the other members under Christ our 
Head, we can have no hope of the future inheritance. There- 
fore the Church is called catholic, or universal ; because there 
could not be two or three churches, without Christ being di- 
vided, which is impossible. But all the elect of God are so 
connected with each other in Christ, that as they depend upon 
one head, so they grow up together as into one body, com- 
pacted together like members of the same body ; being made 
truly one, as living by one faith, hope, and charity, through the 
same Divine Spirit, being called not only to the same inherit- 
ance of eternal life, but also to a participation of one God and 
Christ. Therefore, though the melancholy desolation which 
surrounds us, seems to proclaim that there is nothing left of the 
Church, let us remember that the death of Christ is fruitful, 
and that God wonderfully preserves his Church as it were in 
niding-places ; according to what he said to Elijah : " I have 

(d) 2 Tim. ii. 19. 



CHAP. 1.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 223 

reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed 
the knee to Baal." (e) 

III. This article of the creed, however, relates in some 
measure to the external Church, that every one of us may 
maintain a brotherly agreement with all the children of God, 
may pay due deference to the authority of the Church, and, in 
& word, may conduct himself as one of the flock. Therefore 
we add the communion of saints — a clause which, though 
generally omitted by the ancients, ought not to be neglected, 
because it excellently expresses the character of the Church ; 
as though it had been said that the saints are united in the fel- 
lowship of Christ on this condition, that whatever benefits God 
confers upon them, they should mutually communicate to each 
other. This destroys not the diversity of grace, for we know 
that the gifts of the Spirit are variously distributed ; nor does 
it disturb the order of civil polity, which secures to every indi- 
vidual the exclusive enjoyment of his property, as it is neces- 
sary for the preservation of the peace of society that men 
should have peculiar and distinct possessions. But the commu- 
"rlity asserted is such as Luke describes, that "the multitude of 
them that believed were of one heart and of one soul;"(/) 
and Paul, when he exhorts the Ephesians to be " one body, 
and one spirit, even as they were called in one hope." (g) 
Nor is it possible, if they are truly persuaded that God is a 
common Father to them all, and Christ their common Head, 
but that, being united in brotherly affection, they should mu- 
tually communicate their advantages to each other. Now, it 
highly concerns us to know what benefit we receive from this. 
For we believe the Church, in order to have a certain assur- 
ance that we are members of it. For thus our salvation rests 
on firm and solid foundations, so that it caiTnoflari into ruin, 
though the whole fabric of the world should be dissolved. 
Firstj it is founded on the election of God, and can be liable 
to no variation or failure, but with the subversion of his eternal 
providence. In the next place, it is united with the stability 
of Christy who will no more suffer his faithful people to Be 
severed from him, than his members to be torn in pieces. 
Besides, we are certain, as long as we continue in the bosom 
of the Church, that we shall remain in possession of the truth. 
Lastly, we understand these promises to belong to us: "In 
mount Zion shall be deliverance." (h) God is in the midst of 
her ; she shall not be moved." («) Such is the effect of union 
with the Church, that it retains us in the fellowship of God, 
The very word communion likewise contains abundant conso- 



(•) Rom. xi. 4. I Kinffs xix. 18. (/) Acts iv. 32. {g) Ephes. iT. i 

^U, J.iel ii. 32. Obad. 17 (t) Psalm xlvi. 5. 



224 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

lation ; for while it is certain that whatever the Lord confers 
upon his members and ours belong to us, oar hope is confirmed 
by all the benefits which they enjoy. But in order to embrace 
the unity of the Church in this manner, it is unnecessary, as 
u we have observed, to see the Church with our eyes, or feel it 
I with our hands ; on the contrary, from its being an object of 
faith, we are taught that it is no less to be considered as exist- 
■ ing, when it escapes our observation, than if it were evident 
; to our eyes. Nor is our faith the worse, because it acknow 
; : ledges the Church which we do not fully comprehend ; for we 
; [ are not commanded here to distinguish the reprobate from the 
j elect, which is not our province, but that of God alone ; we 
I are only required to be assured in our minds, that all those 
f who, by the mercy of God the Father, through the efficacious 
influence of the Holy Spirit, have attained to the participation 
of Christ, are separated as the peculiar possession and portion 
of God ; and that being numbered among them, we are parta- 
kers of such great grace. 

IV. But as our present design is to treat of the visible 
Church, we may learn even from the title of mother, how use- 
ful and even necessary it is for us to know her ; since there is 
no other way of entrance into life, unless we are conceived by 
her, born of her, nourished at her breast, and continually pre- 
served under her care and government till we are divested of 
this mortal flesh, and "become like the angels." (k) For our 
infirmity will not admit of our dismission from her school ; we 
must continue under her instruction and discipline to the end 
of our lives. It is also to be remarked, that out of her bosom 
there can be no hope of remission of sins, or any salvation, 
according to the testimony of Joel and Isaiah ; (Z) which is con- 
firmed by Ezekiel, (m) when he denounces that those whom 
God excludes from the heavenly life, shall not be enrolled 
among his people. So, on the contrary, those who devote 
themselves to the service of God, are said to inscribe their 
names among the citizens of Jerusalem. For which reason the 
Psalmist says, " Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that 
thou bearest unto thy people : O visit me with thy salvation , 
that I may see the good of thy chosen ; that I may rejoice in 
the gladness of thy nation ; that I may glory with thine in- 
heritance." (w) In these words the paternal favour of God, and 
the peculiar testimony of the spiritual life, are restricted to his 
flock, to teach us that it is always fatally dangerous to be 
separated from the Church. 

V. But let us proceed to state what belongs to this subject. 

(A) Matt. xxii. 30. (wi) Ezek. xiii. 9. 

(I) leaiah xxxyii. 35. Joel ii. 32. (n) Psalm cvi. 4. 5. 



CHAP. I.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 225 

Paul writes, that Christ, " that he might fill all things, gave 
some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and 
some pastors and teachers ; for the perfectjjig of the saints, for 
the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ : 
till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge 
of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of 
the stature of the fulness of Christ." (o) We see that though 
God could easily make his people perfect in a single moment, 
yet it was not his will that they should grow to mature age, 
but under the education of the Church. We see the means 
expressed ; the preaching of the heavenly doctrine is assigned 
to the pastors. We see that all arc placed under the same 
regulation, in order that they may submit themselves with 
gentleness and docility of mind to be governed by the pastors 
who are appointed for this purpose. Isaiah had long before 
described the kingdom of Christ by this character : " My Spirit 
that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy 
mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth 
of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, from 
henceforth and for ever." (p) Hence it follows, that all who 
reject the spiritual food for their souls, which is extended to 
them by the hands of the Church, deserve to perish with hun- 
ger and want. _ It is God-jacbo- inspires. us with faith, but it is, 

•sOlirough the instrurnentality of tha gospel, according to the 
declaration of Paul, "that faith eometh by hearing." (5^) So 

— also the power to save resides in God, but, as the same apostle 

testifies in another plage, Jie displays it in the preaching of the 

gospel. With^ this design, in former ages he commanded so- 

^lemn assemblies to be held in the sanctuary, that the doctrine 

taught by the mouth of the priest might maintain the unity of 

.^'the faith ; and the design of those magnificent titles, where the 
temple is called God's " rest," his " sanctuary," and "dwelling- 
place," where he is said to " dwell between the cherubim," (r) 
was no other than to promote the esteem, love, reverence, and 
jlignity of the heavenly doctrine ; which the view of a mortal 
and despised man would otherwise greatly diminish. That 
we may know, therefore, that we have an inestimable treasare 
communicated to us from earthen vessels, (s) God himself 
comes forward, and as he is the Author of this arrangement, so 
he will be acknowledged as present in his institution. There- 
fore, after having forbidden his people to devote themselves to 
auguries, divinations, magical arts, necromancy, and other su- 
perstitions, he adds, that he will give them what ought to be 
sufficient for every purpose, namely, that he will never leave 

fo) Ephes. iv. 10—13. (p) Isaiah lix. 21. (q) Rom. x. 17, 

(r) Psalm cxxxii. 14; Ixxx. 1. {s) 2 Cor iv. 7 

VOL. II. 29 



226 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

them without prophets. Now, as he did not refer his ancient 
people to angels, but raised up earthly teachers who truly 
discharged the office of angels, so, in the present day, he is 
pleased to teach us by the instrumentality of me.i. And as 
formerly he was not content with the written law, but appoint- 
ed the priests as interpreters, at whose lips the people might 
in(iuire its true meaning, so, in the present day, he not only 
re(|uires us to be attentive to reading, but has appointed teach- 
ers for our assistance. This is attended with a twofold 
advantage. For on the one hand, it is a good proof of our 
obedience when we listen to his ministers, just as if he were 
addressing us himself; and on the other, he has provided for 
our infirmity, by choosing to address us through the medium 
of human interpreters, that he may sweetly allure us to him. 
rather tiian to drive us away from him by his thunders. And 
the propriety of this familiar manlier of teaching, is evident to 
all the pious, from the terror with which the majesty of God 
justly alarms them. Those who consider the authority of the 
doctrine as weakened by the meanness of the men who are called 
to teach it, betray their ingratitude ; because among so many 
excellent gifts with which God has adorned mankind, it is a 
peculiar privilege, that he deigns to consecrate men's lips and 
tongues to his service, that his voice may be heard in them. 
Let us not therefore, on our parts, be reluctant to receive and 
obey the doctrine of salvation proposed to us at his express 
command ; for though the power of God is not confined to ex- 
ternal means, yet he has confined us to the ordinary manner 
of teaching, the fanatical rejecters of which necessarily involve 
themselves in many fatal snares. J\Iany_are urged, by pride, 
or disdain, or envy, to persuade themselves that they can profit 
sufficiently by reading and meditating in private, and so to 
despise public assemblies, and consider preaching as unneces- 
sary. But since they do all in their power to dissolve and 
break asunder the bond of unity, which ought to be preserved 
inviolable, not one of them escapes the just punishment of this 
impious breach, but they all involve themselves in pestilent 
errors and pernicious reveries. Wherefore, in order that the 
pure simplicity of faith may flourish among us, let us not be 
reluctant to use this exercise of piety, which the Divine insti- 
tution has shown to be necessary, and which God so repeatedly 
commends to us. There has never been found, among the 
most extravagant of mortals, one insolent enough to say that 
we ought to shut our ears against God ; but the prophets and 
pious teachers, in all ages, have had a difficult contest with 
the wicked, whose arrogance can never submit to be taught 
by *he lips and ministry of men. Now, this is no other 
than eflfacing the image of God, which is discovered to us in 



CHAP, l.j CHRISTIAN RELIGION. ^3,1 

the doctrine. For the faithful under the former dispensation 
were directed to seek the face of God in the sanctuary •,{t) and 
this is so frequently repeated in the law, for no other reason, 
but because the doctrine of the law and the exhortations of the 
prophets exhibited to them a lively image of God ; as Paul 
declares that his preaching displayed *' the glory of God in the 
^ice of Jesus Christ." {v) And in so much the greater detesta- 
tion ought we to hold those apostates, who make it their study 
to cause divisions in churches, as if they would drive away the 
sheep from the fold, and throw them into the jaws of wolves. 
But let us remember what we have quoted from Paul — that 
the Church can only be edified by the preaching of this word, 
and that the saints have no common bond of union to holdj 
them together, any longer than, while learning and profiting 
with one accord, they observe the order which God has pre- 
scribed for the Church. It was principally for this end, as 1 
Tiave already stated, that the faithful under the law were com- 
manded to resort to the sanctuary ; because Moses not only 
celebrates it as the residence of God, but likewise declares it to 
be the place where God has fixed the record of his name ; (lo) 
which without the doctrine of piety, he plainly suggests, would 
be of no use. And it is undoubtedly for the same reason that 
David complains, with great bitterness of soul, of being pre- 
vented from access to the tabernacle by the tyrannical cruelty 
of his enemies, (x) To many persons perhaps this appears to 
be a puerile lamentation, because it could be but a very trivial 
loss, and not a privation of much satisfaction to be absent from 
the court of the temple, provided he were in the possession of 
other pleasures. But by this one trouble, anxiety, and sorrow, 
he complains that he is grieved, tormented, and almost con- 
sumed ; because nothing is more valued by believers than 
this assistance, by which God gradually raises his people from 
one degree of elevation to another. For it is also to be re- 
marked, that God always manifested himself to the holy fa- 
thers, in the mirror of his doctrine, in such a manner that their 
knowledge of him was spiritual. Hence the temple was 
not only called his face, but in order to guard against all su- 
perstition, was also designated as his footstool, {y) And this is 
that happy conjunction in the unity of the faith spoken of by 
Paul, when all, from the highest to the lowest, are aspiring 
towards the head. All the temples which the Gentiles erected 
to God with any other design, were nothing but a profanation 
of his worship — a crime which, though not to an equal extent, 
was also frequently committed by the Jews. Stephen re- 

(0 Psalm cv. 4. (e) 2 Cor. iv. 6. (w) Exod. xx. 24. 

(x) Psalm Ixxxiv. (y) Psalm cxxzii. 7. xcix. 5 



228 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

proaches them for it in the language of Isaiah : " The Most 
High dwelleth not in temples made with hands ; as saith the 
prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool," (z) 
because God alone sanctifies temples by his word, that they 
may be legitimately used for his worship. And if we pre- 
sumptuously attempt any thing without his command, the evil 
beginning is immediately succeeded by further inventions, 
which multiply the mischief without end. Xerxes, however, 
acted with great indiscretion, when, at the advice of the magi, 
he burned or demolished all the temples of Greece, from an 
opinion of the absurdity that gods, to whom all space ought to 
be left perfectly free, should be enclosed within walls and 
roofs. As if it were not in the power of God to descend in any 
way to us, and yet at the same time not to make any change 
of place, or to confine us to earthly means, but rather to use 
them as vehicles to elevate us towards his celestial glory, 
which fills all things with its immensity, as well as transcends 
the heavens in its sublimity. 

VI. Now, as the present age has witnessed a violent dispute 
respecting the efficacy of the ministry, some exaggerating its 
dignity beyond measure, and others contending that it is a 
criminal transfer to mortal man of what properly belongs to 
the Holy Spirit, to suppose that ministers and teachers penetrate 
the mind and heart, so as to correct the blindness of the one, 
and the hardness of the other, — we must proceed to a decision of 
this controversy. The arguments advanced on both sides may 
be easily reconciled by a careful observation of the passages, in 
which God, the Author of preaching, connecting his Spirit with 
it, promises that it shall be followed with success ; or those in 
which, separating himself from all external aids, he attributes 
the commencement of faith, as well as its subsequent progress, 
entirely and exclusively to himself. The office of the second 
Elias, according to Malachi, was to illuminate the minds and to 
" tarn the hearts of the fathers to the children," and the disobe- 
dient to the wisdom of the just, (a) Christ declares that he 
sent his disciples, that they " should bring forth fruit " (6) from 
their labours. What that fruit was, is briefly defined by Peter, 
when he says that we are "born again, not of corruptible seed, 
but of incorruptible." (c) Therefore Paul glories that ha had 
" begotten " the Corinthians " through the gospel," and that 
they were " the seal of his apostleship ; " (d) and even that he 
was " not a minister of the letter," merely striking the ear with 
a vocal sound, but that the energy of the Spirit had been given 
to him to render his doctrine efficacious, {e'l In the same sense, 



(z) Acts vii. 48, 49. (b) John xv. 16. (iT) 1 Cor. iv. 15 ix. 2. 

(a) Mai. iv. 6. (c) 1 Peter i. 23. (e) 2 Cor. iii. 6. 



CHAH. I.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION, 22S 

he affirms, in another Epistle, that his " gospel came uot in word 
only, but also in power." (/) He declares also to the Galatians, 
that they " received the Spirit by the hearing of faith." {g) In 
short, there are several places, in which he not only represents 
himself as a "labourer together with God," (A) but even attri- 
butes to himself the office of communicating salvation. He 
certainly never advanced all these things, in order to arrogate to 
himself the least praise independent of God, as he briefly states 
in otner passages : " Our entrance in unto you was not in vain."(i) 
'' I labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in 
me mightily." [k) " He that wrought efliectually in Peter to the 
apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me 
toward the Gentiles." (Z) Besides, it is evident, from other 
pi ices, that he leaves ministers possessed of nothing, considered 
in themselves : " Neither is he that planteth any thing, neithei 
he that watereth ; but God that giveth the increase." (w) 
Again : " I laboured more abundantly than they all ; yet not I, 
but the grace of God which was with me." [n) And it is cer- 
tainly necessary to bear in memory those passages, in which 
God ascribes to himself the illumination of the mind and reno- 
vation of the heart, and thereby declares it to be sacrilege for 
man to arrogate to himself any share in either. Yet every one 
who attends with docility of mind to the ministers whom God 
has appointed, will learn from the beneficial effect, that this 
mode ot teaching has not in vain been pleasing to God, and 
that this yoke of modesty has not without reason been imposed 
upon believers. 

VH. From what has been said, I conceive it must now bo 
evident what judgment we ought to form respecting the Church, 
which is visible to our eyes, and falls under our knowledge. 
For we have remarked that the word Church is used in the sa- 
cred Scriptures in two senses. Sometimes, when they mention 
the Church, they intend that which is really such in the sight of 
God, into which none are received but those who by adoption and 
grace are the children of God, and by the sanctification of the 
Spirit are the true members of Christ. And the i it comprehends 
not only the saints at any one time resident on earth, but all the 
elect who have lived from the beginning of the worldr 'But the 
word Church is frequently used in the Scriptures to designate the 
whole multitude, dispersed all over the world, who profess to 
worship one God and Jesus Christ, who are initiated into his 
faith by baptism, who testify their unity in true doctrine and 
charity by a participation of the sacred supper, who consent to 

(/) 1 Thess. i. 5. {k) Col. i. 29. 

(/) Gal. iii. 2 (0 Gal. ii. 8. 

(A) 1 Cor. iii. 9; xv. 10 2 Cor. vi. 1 {m) 1 Cor. iii. 7. 

(i) 1 Thesa. ii. 1. (n) 1 Cor. xv. 10 



230 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

the word of the Lord, and preserve the ministry which Christ 
has instituted for the purpose of preaching it. J[n_^this Church 
areJaciuded many hypocrites, who have nothing o? "Clirist but 
TlTe "iicime and appearance ; many persons ambitious, avaricious, 
envious, slanderous, and dissokite in their lives, who are tole- 
rated for a time, either because they cannot be convicted by a 
legitimate process, or because discipline is not always maintained 
with sufficient vigour. As it is necessary, therefore, to believe 
that Church, which is invisible to us, and known to God alone, 
so this Church, which is visible to men, we are commanded to 
honour, and to maintain communion with it. 

VIII. As far, therefore, as was important for us to know it, 
the Lord has described it by certain marks and characters. It 
is the peculiar prerogative of God himself to " know them that 
are his," (o) as we have already stated from Paul. And to guard 
against human presumption ever going to such an extreme, the 
experience of every day teaches us how very far his secret judg- 
ments transcend all our apprehensions. For those who seemed 
the most abandoned, and were generally considered past all hope, 
are recalled by his goodness into the right way ; while some, 
who seemed to stand better than others, fall into perdition. 
" According to the secret predestination of God," therefore, as 
Augustine observes, *' there are many sheep without the pale 
of the Church, and many wolves within." For he knows and 
seals those who know not either him or themselves. Of those 
who externally bear his seal, his eyes alone can discern who 
are unfeignedly holy, and will persevere to the end ; which 
is the completion of salvation. On the other hand, as he saw 
it to be in some measure requisite that we should know who 
ought to be considered as his children, he has in this respect 
accommodated himself to our capacity. And as it was not 
necessary that on this point we should have an assurance of 
faith, he has substituted in its place a judgment of charity, 
according to which we ought to acknowledge as members of 
the Church all those who by a confession of faith, an exemplary 
life, and a participation of the sacraments, profess the same God 
and Christ with ourselves. But the knowledge of the body 
itself being more necessary to our salvation, he has distin- 
guished it by more clear and certain characters. 

IX. Hence the visible Church rises conspicuous to our view. 
For wherever we find the word of God purely preached and 
heard, and the sacraments administered according to the insti- 
tution of Christ, there, it is not to be doubted, is a Church of 
God ; for his promise can never deceive — " where two or three 
fre gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of 

( ^) 2 Tim. ii 19 



CHAP. I.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 231 

them." {p) Bui, that we may have a clear understanding of 
the whole of this subject, let us proceed by the following steps : 
That the universal Church is the whole multitude, collected 
from all nations, who, though dispersed in countries widely 
distant from eacK other, nevertheless consent to the same truth 
of Divine doctrine, and are united by the bond of the same 
religion ; that in this universal Church arc comprehended 
particular churches, distributed according to human necessity 
in various towns and villages ; and that each of these respect- 
ively is justly distinguished by the name and authority of a 
church ; and that individuals, who, on a profession of piety, are 
enrolled among Churches of the same description, though they 
are really strangers to any particular Church, do nevertheless in 
some respect belong to it, till they are expelled from it by a 
public decision. There is some difference, however, in the mode 
of judging respecting private persons and churches. For it 
may happen, in the case of persons whom we think altogether 
unworthy of the society of the pious, that, on account of the 
common consent of the Church, by which they are tolerated in 
the body of Christ, we may be obliged to treat them as brethren, 
and to class them in the number of believers. In our private opin- 
ion we approve not of such persons as members of the Church, 
but we leave them the station they hold among the people of 
God, till it be taken away from them by legitimate authority. 
But respecting the congregation itself, we must form a different 
judgment. If they possess and honour the ministry of the word, 
and the administration of the sacraments, they are, without 
all doubt, entitled to be considered as a Church ; because it is 
certain that the word and sacraments cannot be unattended 
with some good effects. In this manner, we preserve the unity 
of the universal Church, which diabolical spirits have always 
been endeavouring to destroy ; and at the same time without 
interfering with the authority of those legitimate assemblieSf 
which local convenience has distributed in different places, 

X. We have stated that the marks by which the Church 
is to be distinguished, are, the preaching of the word and the 
administration of the sacraments. For these can nowhere exist 
without bringing forth fruit, and being prospered with the 
blessing of God. I assert not that wherever the word is 
preached, the good effects of it immediately appear ; but that it 
is never received so as to obtain a permanent establishment, 
without displaying some efficacy. However this may be, 
where the word is heard with reverence, and the sacraments 
are not neglected, there we discover, while that is the case, an 
ap;i«»Rrance of the Church, which is liable to no suspicion oi 

ip) Matt, xviii. 20. 



IJ132 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

uncertainty, of which no one can safely despise the authority, 
or reject the admonitions, or resist the counsels, or slight the 
censures, much less separate from it and break up its unity. 
For so highly does the Lord esteem the communion of his 
Church, that he considers every one as a traitor and apostate 
from religion, who perversely withdraws himself from any 
Christian society which preserves the true ministry of the word 
and sacraments. He commends the authority of the Church, 
in such a manner as to account every violation of it an infringe- 
ment of his own. For it is not a trivial circumstance, that the 
Church is called "the house of God, the pillar and ground of 
truth." (q) For m these words Paul signifies that in order to 
keep the truth of God from being lost in the world, the Church 
is its faithful guardian ; because it has been the will of God, 
by the ministry of the Church, to preserve the pure preaching 
of his word, and to manifest himself as our affectionate Father, 
while he nourishes us with spiritual food, and provides all 
things conducive to our salvation. Nor is it small praise, that 
the Church is chosen and separated by Christ to be his spouse, 
" not having spot or wrinkle," (r) to be " his body, the fulness 
of him that fiUeth all in all." (s) Hence it follows, that a 
departure from the Church is a renunciation of God and Christ. 
And such a criminal dissension is so much the more to be 
avoided, because, while we endeavour, as far as lies in our 
power, to destroy the truth of God, we deserve to be crushed 
with the most powerful thunders of his wrath. Nor is it 
possible to imagine a more atrocious crime, than that sacrile- 
gious perfidy, which violates the conjugal relation that the 
only begotten Son of God has condescended to form with us. 

XI. Let us, therefore, diligently retain those characters im- 
pressed upon our minds, and estimate them according to the 
judgment of God. For there is nothing that Satan labours 
more to accomplish, than to remove and destroy one or both of 
them ; at one time to efface and obliterate these marks, and so 
to take away all true and genuine distinction of the Church ; at 
mother to inspire us with contempt of them, and so to drive 
ds out of the Church by an open separation. By his subtlety 
it has happened, that in some ages tne pure preaching of the 
word has altogether disappeared ; and in the present day he is 
labouring with the same malignity to overturn the ministry ; 
which, however, Christ has ordained in his Church, so that if it 
were taken away, the edification of the Church would be quite 
It an end. How dangerous, then, how fatal is the temptation, 
•vhen it even enters into the heart of a man to withdraw him- 
self from that congregation, in which he discovers those signs 

iq) 1 Tirn. iii. 15. (r) Eph. v. 27 (s) Eph. i. 23. 



CHAP. 1.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 233 

and characters which the Lord has deemed sufficiently descrip- 
tive of his Church ! We see, however, that great caution re- 
quires to be observed on both sides. For, to prevent imposture 
from deceiving us, under the name of the Church, every con- 
gregation assuming this name should be brought to that proof, 
hke gold to the touchstone. If it have the order prescribed by 
the Lord in the word and sacraments, it will not deceive us • 
we may securely render to it the honour due to all churches. 
On the contrary, if it pretend to the name of a Church, with- 
out the word and sacraments, we ought to beware of such de- 
lusive pretensions, with as much caution as, in the other case, 
we should use in avoiding presumption and pride. 

XII. When we affirm the pure ministry of the word, and 
pure order in the celebration of the sacraments, to be a suffi- 
cient pledge and earnest, that we may safely embrace the soci- 
ety in which both these are found, as a true Church, we carry 
the observation to this point, that such a society should never 
be rejected as long as it continues in those things, although in 
other respects it may be chargeable with many faults. It is 
possible, moreover, that some fault may insinuate itself into the 
preaching of the doctrine, or the administration of the sacra- 
ments, which ought not to alienate us from its communion. 
For all the articles of true doctrine are not of the same de- 
scription. Some are so necessary to be known, that they 
ought to be universally received as fixed and indubitable prin- 
ciples, as the peculiar maxims of religion ; such as, that there is 
one God ; that Christ is God and the Son of God ; that our 
salvation depends on the mercy of God ; and the like. There 
are others, which are controverted among the churches, yet 
without destroying the unity of the faith. For why should 
there be a division on this point, if one church be of 
opinion, that souls, at their departure from their bodies, are 
immediately removed to heaven ; and another church venture 
to determine nothing respecting their local situation, but be 
nevertheless firmly convinced, that they live to the Lord ; and 
if this diversity of sentiment on both sides be free from all 
fondness for contention and obstinacy of assertion ? The lan- 
guage of the apostle is, " Let us therefore, as many as be per- 
fect, be thus minded; andif in any thing ye be otherwise minded, 
God shall reveal even this unto you." {t) Does not this suffi- 
ciently show, that a diversity of opinion respecting these non- 
essential points ought not to be a cause of discoid among 
Christians ? It is of importance, indeed, that we should agree 
m every thing ; but as there is no person who is not enveloped 
with some cloud of ignorance, either we must allow of no 

(t) Phil. iii. 15 

VOL. 11, 30 



234 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 1* 

church at all, or we must forgive mistakes in those things, of 
which persons may be ignorant, without violating the essence 
of religion, or incurring the loss of salvation. Here I would 
not be understood to plead for any errors, even the smallest, or 
to recommend their being encouraged by connivance or flat- 
tery. But I maintain, that we ought not, on account of every 
trivial difference of sentiment, to abandon the Church, which 
retains the saving and pure doctrine that insures the preserva- 
tion of piety, and supports the use of the sacraments instituted 
by our Lord. In the mean time, if we endeavour to correct 
what we disapprove, we are acting in this case according to our 
duty. And to this we are encouraged by the direction of Paul : 
" If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the 
first hold his peace." (v) From which it appears, that every 
member of the Church is required to exert himself for the 
general edification, according to the measure of his grace, pro 
vided he do it decently and in order ; that is to say, that we 
should neither forsake the communion of the Church, nor, by 
continuing in it, disturb its peace and well regulated discipline. 
XIII. But in bearing with imperfections of life, we ought 
to carry our indulgence a great deal further. For this is a 
point in which we are very liable to err, and here Satan lies in 
wait to deceive us with no common devices. For there have 
always been persons, who, from a false notion of perfect sanc- 
tity, as if they were already become disembodied spirits, de- 
spised the society of all men in whom they could discover any 
remains of human infirmity. Such, in ancient times, were the 
Cathari, and also the Donatists, who approached to the same 
folly. Such, in the present day, are some of the Anabaptists, 
who would be thought to have made advances in piety beyond 
all others. There are others who err, more from an incon- 
siderate zeal for righteousness, than from this unreasonable 
pride. For when they perceive, that among those to whom 
the gospel is preached, its doctrine is not followed by corre- 
spondent effects in the life, they immediately pronounce, that 
there no church exists. This is, indeed, a very just ground of 
ofience, and one for which we furnish more than sufficient 
occasion in the present unhappy age ; nor is it possible to ex- 
cuse our abominable inactivity, which the Lord will not suffer 
to escape with impunity, and which he has already begun to 
chastise with heavy scourges. Woe to us, therefore, who, by 
tli^ dissolute licentiousness of our crimes, cause weak con- 
sc ices to be wounded on our account! But, on the other 
haiid, the error of the persons of whom we now speak, consists 
in not knowing how to fix any limits to their offence. For 

(r) 1 Cor. xiv. 30 



CHAP. l.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 235 

where our Lord requires the exercise of mercy, they entirely 
neglect it, and indulge themselves in immoderate severity. 
Supposing it impossible for the Church to exist, where there is 
not a perfect purity and integrity of life, through a hatred of 
crimes they depart from the true Church, while they imagine 
themselves to be only withdrawing from the factions of the 
wicked. They allege, that the Church of Christ is holy. 
But that they may also understand, that it is composed of good 
and bad men mingled together, let them hear that parable from 
the lips of Christ, where it is compared to a net, in which 
fishes of all kinds are collected, and no separation is made till 
they are exposed on the shore, (w) Let them hear another 
parable, comparing the Church to a field, which, after having 
been sown with good seed, is, by the craft of an enemy, cor- 
rupted with tares, from which it is never cleared till the har- 
vest is brought into the barn, (.r) Lastly, let them hear an- 
other comparison of the Church to a threshing-floor, in which 
the wheat is collected in such a manner, that it lies concealed 
under the chaff", till, after being carefully purged, by winnow- 
ing and sifting, it is at length laid up in the garner, (y) But 
if our Lord declares, that the Church is to labour under this 
evil, and to be encumbered with a mixture of wicked men, 
even till the day of judgment, it is vain to seek for a Church 
free from every spot. 

XIV. But they exclaim, that it is an mtolerable thing that 
the pestilence of crimes so generally prevails. I grant it would 
be happy if the fact were otherwise ; but in reply, I would 
present them with the judgment of the apostle. Among the 
Corinthians, more than a few had gone astray, and the infec- 
tion had seized almost the whole society; there was not only 
one species of sin, but many; and they were not trivial faults, 
but dreadful crimes ; and there was not only a corruption of 
morals, but also of doctrine. In this case, what is the conduct 
of the holy apostle, the organ of the heavenly Spirit, by wnose 
testimony the Church stands or falls ? Does he seek to sepa- 
rate from them ? Does he reject them from the kingdom of 
Christ ? Does he strike them with the thunderbolt of the 
severest anathema? He not only does none of these things, 
but, on the contrary, acknowledges and speaks of them as a 
Church of Christ and a society of saints. If there remained a 
church among the Corinthians, where contentions, factions, 
and emulations were raging ; where cupidity, disputes, and 
litigations were prevailing ; where a crime held in execration 
even among the Gentiles, was publicly sanctioned ; where the 
name of Paul, whom they ought to have revered as their fa- 

(ti>) Matt. xiii. 47 (x) Matt, xiii 24 (y) Matt. iii. 12 



2*36 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

ther, was insolently defamed ; where some ridiculed the doc 
trine of the resurrection, with the subversion of which the 
whole gospel would be annihilated ; where the graces of God 
were made subservient to ambition, instead of charity ; where 
many things were conducted without decency and order ; (z) 
and if there still remained a Church, because the ministry of 
the word and sacraments was not rejected — who can refuse 
the name of a Church to those who cannot be charged with a 
tenth part of those crimes ? And those who display such vio- 
lence and severity against the Churches of the present age, I 
ask, how would they have conducted themselves towards the 
Galatians, who almost entirely deserted the gospel, but among > 
whom, nevertheless, the same apostle found Churches ? (a) •'^ 

XY. They object that Paul bitterly reproves the Corinthians 
for admitting an atrocious offender into their company, and 
follows this reproof with a general declaration, that with a 
man of scandalous life it is not lawful even to eat. (6) Here 
they exclaim. If it be not lawful to eat common bread with him, 
how can it be lawful to unite with him in eating the bread of 
the Lord ? I confess it is a great disgrace, if persons of im- 
moral lives occupy places among the children of God ; and if 
the sacred body of Christ be prostituted to them, the disgrace is 
vastly increased. And, indeed, if Churches be well regulated, 
they will not suffer persons of abandoned characters among 
them, nor will they promiscuously admit the worthy and the 
unworthy to that sacred supper. But because the pastors are 
not always so diligent in watching over them, and sometimes 
exercise more indulgence than they ought, or are prevented 
from exerting the severity they would wish, it happens thai 
even those who are openly wicked are not always expelled 
from the society of the saints. This I acknowledge to be a 
fault, nor have I any inclination to extenuate it, since Paul 
sharply reproves it in the Corinthians. But though the Church 
may be deficient in its duty, it does not therefore follow that it 
is the place of every individual to pass judgment of separation 
"foThiiiiself. I admit that it is the duty of a pious man to with- 
draw himself from all private intimacy with the wicked, and 
not to involve himself in any voluntary connection with them. 
But it is one thing to avoid familiar intercourse with the 
wicked ; and another thing, from hatred of them, to renounce 
the communion of the Church. And persons who deem it 
sacrilege to participate with them the bread of the Lord, are in 
this respect far more rigid than Paul. For when he exhorts us 
♦() a pure and holy participation of it, he requires not one to 



(z) 1 
(«) Gal. i. 



Cor. i. 11 ; iii. 'i; v. 1 ; vi. 7 ; ix. 1 ; xiv. 26, 40 ; xv. 12. 

6; iii. 1 ; iv. 1 1 (/;) 1 Cor. v. 2, 11, 12. 



CHAP. 1.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 237 

txainine another, or every one to examine the whole Clmrch, 
but each mdividual to prove himself. If it were unlawful to 
communicate with an unworthy person, Paul would certainly 
havH enjoined us to look around us, to see whether there were 
not some one in the multitude by whose impurity we might be 
contaminated. But as he only requires every one to examine 
himself, he shows that it is not the least injury to us if some 
unworthy persons intrude themselves with us. And this is 
fully implied in what he afterwards subjoins: "He that eateth 
and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to 

iiimseif." (cj He says, not to others, but to himself, and with 

sufficient reason. For it ought not to be left to the judgment 
of eveiy individual loho ought to be admitted into the Church, 
andt^Ao ought to be expelled from it. This authority belongs 
.to the whole Church, and cannot be exercised without legitimate 
order, as will be stated more at large hereafter. It would be 
unjust, therefore, that any individual should be contaminated 
with the unworthiness of another, whose approach it is neither 
in his power nor his duty to prevent. 

XVI. But though this temptation sometimes arises even to 
good men, from an inconsiderate zeal for righteousness, yet we 
shall generally find that excessive seventy is more owing to 
pride and haughtiness, and a false opinion which persons enter- 
tain of their own superior sanctity, than to tiue holiness, and a 
real concern for its interests. Those, therefore, who are most 
jai:iiigJa..promoting a separation from the Church, and act, as 
it were, as standard-bearers in the revolt, have in general no 
other motive than to make an ostentatious display of their own 
superior excellence, and their contempt of all others. ^^ Augj^tine 
correctly and judiciously observes — " Whereas the pious tule 
and method of ecclesiastical discipline ought principally to regard 
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, which the apostle 
enjoined to be preserved by mutual forbearance, and which not 
being preserved, the medicinal punishment is evinced to be not 
only superfluous, but even pernicious, and therefore to be no 
longer medicinal ; those wicked children, Avho, not from a 
hatred of the iniquities of others, but from a fondness for their 
own contentions, earnestly endeavour to draw the simple and 
uninformed multitude wholly after them, by entangling them 
with boasting of their own characters, or at least to divide them ; 
those persons, I say, inflated with pride, infmiated with obsti- 
nacy, insidious in the circulation of calumnies, and turbulent in 
raising seditions, conceal themselves under the mask of a rigid se- 
verity, lest they should be proved to be destitute of the truth ; 

(r) 1 Cor. xi 28, 2y 



238 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

and those things which in the Holy Scriptures are commanded to 
be done with great moderation, and without violating the sinceri- 
ty of love, or breaking the unity of peace, for the correction ot 
the faults of our brethren, they pervert to the sacrilege of schism, 
and an occasion of separation from the Church." To pious and 
peaceable persons he gives this advice : that they should correct 
in mercy whatever they can ; that what they cannot, they should 
patiently bear, and affectionately lament, till God either reform 
and correct it, or, at the harvest, root up the tares and sift out 
the chaff. All pious persons should study to fortify themselves 
with these counsels, lest, while they consider themselves as 
valiant and strenuous defenders of righteousness, they depart 
from the kingdom of heaven, which is the only kingdom of 
righteousness. For since it is the will of God that the com- 
munion of his Church should be maintained in this external 
society, those who, from an aversion to wicked men, destroy 
the token of that society, enter on a course in which they are 
in great danger of falling from the communion of saints. Let 

J them consider, in the first place, that in a great multitude there 

are many who escape their observation, who, nevertheless, are 

^) truly holy and innocent in the sight of God. Secondly, let 

'^"" them consider, that of those who appear subject to moral mala- 
dies, there are many who by no means please or flatter them- 
selves in their vices, but are oftentimes aroused, with a serious 

^/' fear of God, to aspire to greater integrity. Thirdly, let them 

W consider that judgment ought not to be pronounced upon a man 

from a single act, since the holiest persons have sometimes most 

/ / grievous falls. Fourthly, let them consider, that the ministry 

^ of the word, and ihe participation of the sacraments, have 

too much influence in preserving the unity of the Church, 

to admit of its being destroyed by the guilt of a few impious 

,. men. Lastly, let them consider, that in forming an estimate 

■\ of the Cliiirch, the judgment of God is of more weight thai/ 

«:-^' that of man. 

XVIL When they allege that there must be some reason 
why the Church is said to be holy, it is necessary to examine 
the holiness in which it excels ; lest by refusing to admit the 
existence of a Church without absolute and sinless perfection, 
we should leave no Church in the world. It is true, that, as 
Paul tells us, " Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for 
it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, by the washing of water 
by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious 
Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." (d) It 
is nevertheless equally true, that the Lord works from day to 
lay in smoothing its wrinkles, and purging away its spots ; 

(rf) Ephes. V. 25—27. 



CHAP. I.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 239 

whence it follows, that its hohness is not yet perfect. The 
Church, therefore, is so far holy, that it is daily improving, 
but has not yet arrived at perfection ; that it is daily ad- 
vancing, but has not yet reached the mark of holiness ; as in 
another part of this work will be mort^ fully explained. The 
predictions of the prophets, therefore, that " Jerusalem shall 
be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any 
more," and that the way of God shall be a " way of holi- 
ness, over which " the unclean shall not pass," (e) are not 
to be understood as if there were no blemish remaining in 
any of the members of the Church ; but because they aspire 
with all their souls towards perfect holiness and purity, the 
goodness of God attributes to them that sanctity to which they 
have not yet fully attained. And though such evidences of 
sanctification are oftentimes rarely to be found among men, yet 
it must be maintained, that, from the foundation of the world, 
there has never been a period in which God had not his Church 
in it ; and that, to the consummation of all things, there never 
will be a time in which he will not have his Church. For 
although, in the very beginning of time, the whole human race 
was corrupted and defiled by the sin of Adam ; yet, from this 
polluted mass, God always sanctifies some vessels to honour, so 
that there is no age which has not experienced his mercy. 
This he has testified by certain promises, such as the following : 
''I have made a covenant with my chosen : I have sworn unto 
David, my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build 
up thy throne to all generations." (/) Again: "The Lord 
hath chosen Zion ; he hath desired it for his habitation. This 
is my rest for ever." (g) Again : " Thus saith the Lord, which 
giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the 
moon and of the stars for a light by night : If those ordinances 
depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel 
also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever." (A) 

XVIII. Of this truth Christ himself, the apostles, and almost 
all the prophets, have given us an example. Dreadful are those 
descriptions in which Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Habakkuk, and 
others, deplore the disorders of the Church of Jerusalem. There 
was such general and extreme corruption in the people, in the 
magistrates, and in the priests, that Isaiah does not hesitate to 
compare Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah. Rehgion was 
partly despised, partly corrupted. Their manners were gene- 
rally disgraced by thefts, robberies, treacheries, murders, and 
similar crimes. Nevertheless, the prophets on this account 
neither raised themselves new churches, nor built new altars 



(e) Joel iii. 17. Isaiah xxxv 8 (g) Psalm cxxxii. 13, 14. 

(/) Psalm Ixxxix. 3, 4 (A) Jer. xxx>. 35, 36 



240 INSTITUTES OF THK [bOOK IV 

for the oblation of separate sacrifices ; but whatever were the 
characters of the people, yet because they considered that 
God had deposited his word among that nation, and instituted 
the ceremonies in which he was there worshipped, they lifted 
up pure hands to him even in the congregation of the impious. 
If they had thought that they contracted any contagion from 
these services, surely they would have suffered a hundred deaths 
rather than have permitted themselves to be dragged to them. 
There was nothing therefore to prevent their departure from 
them, but the desire of preserving the unity of the Church. 
But if the holy prophets were restrained by a sense of duty 
from forsaking the Church on account of the numerous and 
enormous crimes which were practised, not by a few individuals, 
but almost by the whole nation, — it is extreme arrogance in us, 
if we presume immediately to withdraw from the communion 
of a Church where the conduct of all the members is not com- 
patible either with our judgment, or even with the Christian 
profession. 

XIX. Now, what kind of an age was that of Christ and his 
apostles ? Yet the desperate impiety of the Pharisees, and the 
dissolute lives every where led by the people, could not prevent 
them from using the same sacrifices, and assembling in the same 
temple with others, for the public exercises of religion. How 
did this happen, but from a knowledge that the society of the 
wicked could not contaminate those who with pure consciences 
united with them in the same solemnities ? If any one pay no 
deference to the prophets and apostles, let him at least acqui- 
esce in the authority of Christ. Cyprian has excellently 
remarked, " Although tares, or impure vessels, are found in tlie 
Church, yet this is not a reason why we should withdraw from 
it. It only behoves us to labour that we may be the wheat, and 
to use om* utmost endeavours and exertions, that we may be 
vessels of gold or of silver. But to break in pieces the vessels 
of earth belongs to the Lord alone, to whom a rod of iron is aUo 
given. Nor let any one arrogate to himself what is exclusively 
the province of the Sou of God, by pretending to fan the floor, 
clear away the chaff, and separate all the tares by the judgment 
of man. This is proud obstinacy and sacrilegious presumption, 
originating in a corrupt frenzy." Let these two points, then, 
be considered as decided ; first, that he who voluntarily deserts 
the external communion of the Church where the word of God 
is preached, and the sacraments are administered, is without 
any excuse ; secondly, that the faults either of few persons or 
of many, form no obstacles to a due profession of our faith in 
the use of the ceremonies instituted by God ; because the pious 
conscience is not wounded by the unworthiness of any other 
jidividual, whether he be a pastor or a private person ; nor are 



CHAP. I.] CHRISTIAN RF.LfGION. 241 

the mysteries less pure and salutary to a holy ano upright 
man, because they are received at the same time by the impure. 

XX. Their severity and haughtiness go to still greater 
lengths. Acknowledging no church but such as is pure from 
the smallest blemishes, they are even angry with honest teachers, 
because, by exhorting believers to progressive improvements, 
they teach them to groan under the burden of sitis, and to seek 
for pardon all their lifetime. For hereby, they pretend, the 
people are drawn away from perfection. I confess, that in 
urging men to perfection, we ought to labour wit]i unremitting 
ardour and diligence ; but to inspire their minds with a per- 
suasion that they have already attained it, while they are 
yet in the pursuit of it, I maintain to be a diabolical invention. 
Therefore, in the Creed, the communion of saints is imme- 
diately followed by the forgiveness of sins, which can only be 
obtained by the citizens and members of the Church, as wa 
read in the prophet. (?) The heavenly Jerusalem, therefore, 
ought first to be built, in which this favour of God may b© 
enjoyed, that whoever shall enter it, their iniquity shall be 
blotted out. Now, I affirm that this ought first to be built ; 
not that there can ever be any Church without remission of 
sins, but because God has not promised to impart his mercy, 
except in the communion of saints. Our first entrance, there- 
fore, into the Church and kingdom of God, is the remission of 
sins, without which we have no covenant or union with God. 
For thus he speaks by the prophet : " In that day will I make 
a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with tho 
fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground ; 
and I will break the bow and the sword, and the battle out of 
the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will 
betroth thee unto me for ever ; yea, I will betroth thee unto me 
in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and 
in mercies." (k) We see how God reconciles us to himself by his 
mercy. So in another place, where he foretells the restoration 
of the people whom he had scattered in his wrath, he says, " I 
will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have 
sinned against me." (l) Wherefore it is by the sign of ablution, 
that we are initiated into the society of his Church ; by which 
we are taught that there is no admittance for us into the fa- 
mily of God, unless our pollution be first taken away by his 
goodness. 

XXI. Nor does God only once receive and adopt us into his 
Church by the remission of sins ; he likewise preserves and 
keeps us in it by the same mercy. For to what purpose would 

(t) Isaiah xxxiii. 24 (k) Hos. ii. 18, 19 (I) Jerem. xxxiii. 8. 

VOL. II. 31 



242 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

it be, if Wti obtained a pardon which would afterwards be of 
no use r And that the mercy of the Lord would be vain and 
delusive, 'fit were only granted for once, all pious persons can 
testify to themselves ; for every one of them is all his life- 
time conscious of many infirmities, which need the Divine 
mercy. And surely it is not without reason, that God particu- 
larly promises this grace to the members of his family, and 
commands the same message of reconciliation to be daily ad- 
dressed to them. As we carry about with us the relics of sin, 
therefore, as long as we live, we shall scarcely continue in the 
Church for a single moment, unless we are sustained by the 
constant grace of the Lord in forgiving our sins. But the Lord 
has called his people to eternal salvation ; they ought, therefore, 
to believe that his grace is always ready to pardon their sins. 
Wherefore it ought to be held as a certain conclusion, that 
from the Divine liberality, by the intervention of the merit of 
Christ, through the sanctification of the Spirit, pardon of sins 
has been, and is daily, bestowed upon us, who have been ad- 
mitted and ingrafted into the body of the Church. 

XXn. It was to dispense this blessing to us, that the keys 
were given to the Church, (m) For, when Christ gave com- 
mandment to his apostles, and conferred on them the power 
of remitting sins, (n) it was not with an intention that they 
should merely absolve from their sins those who were converted 
from impiety to the Christian faith, but rather that they should 
continually exercise this office among the faithful. This is 
taught by Paul, when he says, that the message of reconcilia- 
tion was committed to the ministers of the Church, that in the 
name of Christ they might daily exhort the people to be recon- 
ciled to God. (o) In the communion of saints, therefore, sins 
are continually remitted to us by the ministry of the Church, 
when the presbyters or bishops, to whom this office is com- 
mitted, confirm pious consciences, by the promises of the 
gospel, in the hope of pardon and remission ; and that as well 
publicly as privately, according as necessity requires. For 
there are many persons who, on account of their infirmity 
stand in need of separate and private consolation. And Paul 
tells us that he " taught," not only publicly, but also " from 
house to house, testifying repentance toward God, and faith 
toward our Lord Jesus Christ ; " (p) and admonished every 
individual separately respecting the doctrine of salvation. Here 
are three things, therefore, worthy of our observation. First, 
that whatever holiness may distinguish the children of God, 
vel such is their condition as long as they inhabit a mortal 

(m) Matt. xvi. 19; xviii. 18 (o) 2 Cor. v. 18—20. 

(//) ohn XX. 23. (p) Acts xx. 20, 21 



CHAP. I.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 243 

body, that they cannot stand before God without remission of 
sins. Secondly, that this benefit belongs to the Church ; so 
that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in its communion. 
Thirdly, that it is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors 
of the Church, either in the preaching of the gospel, or in the 
administration of the sacraments ; and that this is the principal 
exercise of the power of the keys, which the Lord has con- 
ferred on the society of believers. Let every one of us, there- 
fore, consider it as his duty, not to seek remission of sins any 
where but where the Lord has placed it. Of public reconcilia- 
tion, which is a branch of discipline, we shall speak in its 
])roper place. 

XXIIL But as those fanatic spirits, of whom I spoke, en- 
deavour to rob the Church of this sole anchor of salvation, oar 
consciences ought to be still more strongly fortified against 
such a pestilent opinion. The Novatians disturbed the ancient 
Churches with this tenet ; but the present age also has wit- ^ 
nessed some of the Anabaptists, who resemble the Novatians 
by falling into the same follies. For they imagine that by 
baptism the people of God are regenerated to a pure and an- 
gelic life, which cannot be contaminated by any impurities of 
the flesh. And if any one be guilty of sin after baptism, they 
leave him no prospect of escaping the inexorable judgment of 
God. In short, they encourage no hope of pardon in any one 
who sins after having received the grace of God ; because they 
acknowledge no other remission of sins than that by which we 
are first regenerated. Now, though there is no falsehood mort 
clearly refuted in the Scripture than this, yet because its advo- 
cates find persons to submit to their impositions, as Novatut 
formerly had numerous followers, let us briefly show how very 
pernicious their error is both to themselves and to others. In 
the first place, when the saints obey the command of the Lord 
by a daily repetition of this prayer, " forgive us our debts," [q) 
they certainly confess themselves to be sinners. Nor do they 
pray in vain, for our Lord has not enjoined the use of any » 
petitions, but such as he designed to grant. And after he 
had declared that the whole prayer would be heard by the 
Father, he confirmed this absolution by a special promise. 
What do we want more ? The Lord requires from the saints ^ 
a confession of sins, and that daily as long as they live, and he 
promises them pardon. What presumption is it either to assert 
that they are exempt from sin, or, if they have fallen, to exclude 
them from all grace ! To whom does he enjoin us to grant for- 
giveness seventy times seven times ? Is it not to our brethren ? 
And what was the design of this injunction, but that we might 

(r?) Matt. vi. 12. 



244 liNSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK I\ 

imitate iiis clemency ? He pardons, therefore, not once or 
twice, but as often as the sinner is alarmed with a sense of Lis 
sins, and sighs for mercy. 

XXIV. But to begin from the infancy of the Church : /ho 
patriarchs had been circumcised, admitted to the privileges of 
the covenant, and without doubt instructed in justice and in- 
tegrity by the cai-e of their father, when they conspired to 
murder their brother. This was a crime to be abominated 
even by the most desperate and abandoned robbers. At length, 
softened by the admonitions of Judah, they sold him for a 
slave. This also was an intolerable cruelty. Simon and Levi, 
in a spirit of nefarious revenge, condemned even by the judg- 
ment of their father, murdered the inhabitants of Sichem. 
Reuben was guilty of execrable incest with his father's concu- 
bine. Judah, with an intention of indulging a libidinous 
passion, violated the law of nature by a criminal connection 
with his son's wife. Yet they are so far from being expunged 
out of the number of the chosen people, that, on the contrary, 
they are constituted the heads of the nation, (r) What shall 
we say of David ? Though he was the official guardian of 
justice, how scandalously did he prepare the way for the grati- 
fication of a blind passion, by the effusion of innocent blood ! 
He had already been regenerated, and among the regenerate 
had been distinguished by the peculiar commendations of the 
Lord ; yet he perpetrated a crime even among heathens re- 
garded with horror, and yet he obtained mercy, (s) And not 
to dwell any longer on particular examples, the numerous 
promises which the law and the prophets contain, of Divine 
mercy towards the Israelites, are so many proofs of the mani- 
festation of God's placability to the offences of his people. For 
what does Moses promise to the people in case of their return 
to the Lord, after having fallen into idolatry ? " Then the 
Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion 
upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, 
whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine 
be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence 
will the Lord thy God gather thee." (t) 

XXV. But I am unwilling to commence an enumeration 
which would have no end. For the prophets are full of such 
promises, which offer mercy to the people, though covered 
with innumerable crimes. What sin is worse than rebellion ? 
It is described as a divorce between God and the Church : yet 
this is overcome by the goodness of God. Hear his language 
by the mouth of Jeremiah : " If a man put away his wife, and 

(r) Gen. xxxvii. 18, 28 ; xxxiv. 2-5; xxxv. 22; xxxviii. 16. 
(s) 2 Sam. xi. 4, 15 : xii. 13 (0 Deut. xxx 3, 4 



CHAP. I.J CHRISTIAJJ RELIGION. 246 

she go from him, and become another man's, shall he returii 
unto her again ? Shall not that land be greatly polluted ? But 
thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, and thou hast 
polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wicked- 
ness. Yet return again to me, thou backsliding Israel, saith 
the Lord, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you ; 
for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and will not keep anger for 
ever." (v) And surely there cannot possibly be any other dis- 
position in him who affirms, that he " hath no pleasure in the t^ 
death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way 
and live." (to) Therefore, when Solomon dedicated the temple, 
he appointed it also for this purpose, that prayers, offered to 
obtain pardon of sins, might there be heard and answered. 
His words are, " If they sin against thee, (for there is no man 
that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver 
them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives 
unto the land of the enemy, far or near ; yet if they shall be- 
think themselves, and repent in the land whither they were 
carried captives, and repent and make supplication unto thee 
m the land of those that carried them captives, saying. We have 
sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wicked- 
ness ; and pray unto thee toward the land which thou gavest 
unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the 
house which I have built for thy name ; then hear thou their 
prayer and their supplication in heaven, and forgive thy people 
that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions 
wherein they have transgressed against thee." (x) Nor was it 
without cause that in the law the Lord ordained daily sacrifices 
for sins ; for unless he had foreseen that his people would be 
subject to the maladies of daily sins, he would never have ap- 
pointed these remedies, (y) 

XXVI. Now, I ask whether, by the advent of Christ, in 
whom the fulness of grace was displayed, believers have been 
deprived of this benefit, so that they can no longer presume to 
supplicate for the pardon of their sins ; so that if they offend 
against the Lord, they can obtain no mercy. What would 
this be but to affirm, that Christ came for the destruction of his 
people, and not for their salvation ; if the loving-kindness of 
God, in the pardon of sins, which was continually ready to be 
exercised to the saints under the Old Testament, be maintained 
to be now entirely withdrawn ? But if we give any credit to 
the Scriptures, which proclaim that in Christ the grace and 
philanthropy of God have at length been fully manifested, that 
liis mercy has been abundantly diffused, and reconciliation 

(v) Jer. iii. 1, 2, 12 (x) 1 Kings viii. 46—50. 

(m>) Ezek. xixiii. 11 (y) Numb, xxviii. 3 



246 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

between God and man accomplished, (z) we ought not to 
doubt that the clemency of onr heavenly Father is displayed 
to us in greater abundance, rather than restricted or diminished. 
Examples to prove this are not wanting. Peter, who had been 
warned that he who would not confess the name of Christ be- 
fore men would be denied by him before angels, denied him 
three times in one night, and accompanied the denial with 
execrations ; yet he was not refused pardon, (a) Those of the 
Thessalonians who led disorderly lives, are reprehended by the 
apostle, in order to be invited tc repentance. (6) Nor does 
Peter drive Simon Magus himself to despair , but rather directs 
him to cherish a favourable hope, when he persuades him to 
pray for forgiveness, (c) 

XXVII. What are we to say of cases in which the most 
enormous sins have sometimes seized whole Churches ? From 
this situation Paul rather mercifully reclaimed them, than aban- 
doned them to the curse. The defection of the Galatians was 
no trivial offence, (d) The Corinthians were still less"€"fbtisable, 
their crimes being more nurfterews and equally enormous, (e) 
Yet neither are excluded from the mercy of the Lord : on the 
contrary, the very persons who had gone beyond aH others in 
impurity, unchastity, and fornication, are expressly invited to 
repentance. For the covenant of the Lord will ever remain 
eternal and inviolable, which he has made with Christ, the 
antitype of Solomon, and with all his members, in these words : 
" If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments ; 
if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments ; 
then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their ini- 
quity with strijjes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not 
utterly take from him." (/) Finally, the order of the Creed 
teaches us that pardon of sins ever continues in the Church of 
Christ, because, after having mentioned the Church, it imme- 
diately adds the forgiveness of sins. 

XXVIII. Some persons, who are a little more judicious, 
perceiving the notion of Novatus to be so explicitly contradicted 
by the Scripture, do not represent every sin as unpardonable, 
but only voluntary transgression, into which a person may 
have fallen with the full exercise of his knowledge and will. 
These persons admit of no pardon for any sins, but such as 
may have been the mere errors of ignorance. But as the Lord, 
in the law, commanded some sacrifices to be offered to expiate 
the voluntary sins of believers, and others to atone for sins of 
ignorance, what extreme presumption is it to deny that there 

(2) 2 Tim. i. 9, 10 Tit. ii. 11 ; iii. 4—7. 
(a) Matt. X. 33. Mark viii. 38. Matt. xxvi. 69, &c. 
■b) 2 Thess. iii. 6, 11, 12. (c) Acts viii. 22. (d) Gal. i. 6 ; iii 1 ; iv. 9 

^«) 1 Cor. i. n, 12; v. 1. 2 Cor. xii. 21 (/) Psalm Ixxxix 30—33 



CHAP. I.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 247 

is any pardon for voluntary transgression! I maintain, that 
there is nothing more evident, than that the one sacrifice of 
Christ is available ibr the remission of the voluntary sins of the 
saints, since the Lord has testified the same by the legal vic- 
tims, as by so many types. Besides, who can ])lead ignorance 
as an excuse for David, who was evidently so well acquainted 
with the law ? Did not David know that adultery and murder 
were great crimes, which he daily punished in others ? Did 
the patriarchs consider fratricide as lawful ? Had the Corin- 
thians learned so little that they could imagine impurity, incon- 
tinence, fornication, animosities, and contentions, to be pleasing 
to God ? Could Peter, who had been so carefully warned, be 
ignorant how great a crime it was to abjure his Master? Let 
us not, therefore, by our cruelty, shut the gate of mercy which 
Qod has so liberally opened. 

XXIX. I am fully aware that the old writers have explained 
those sins, which are daily forgiven to believers, to be the 
smaller faults, which are inadvertently committed through the 
infirmity of the flesh ; but solemn repentance, which was then 
required for greater offences, they thought, was no more to be 
repeated than baptism. This sentiment is not to be understood 
as indicating their design, either to drive into despair such poi- 
sons as had relapsed after their first repentance, or to extenuate 
those errors, as if they were small in the sight of God. For they 
rcnew that the saints frequently stagger through unbelief; that 
they sometimes utter unnecessary oaths ; that they occasionally 
swell into anger, and even break out into open reproaches ; and 
that they are likewise chargeable with other faults, which the 
Lord holds in the greatest abomination. They expressed 
themselves in this manner, to distinguish between private of- 
fences and those public crimes which were attended with great 
scandal in the Church. But the difficulty, which they made, 
of forgiving 'hose who had committed any thing deserving of 
ecclesiastical censure, did not arise from an opinion that it was 
diflicult for them to obtain pardon from the Lord ; they only 
intended by this severity to deter others from rashly running 
into crimes, which would justly be followed by their exclusion 
from the communion of the Church. The word of the Lord, 
however, which ought to be our only rule in this case, certainly 
prescribes greater moderation. For it teaches, that the rigour 
of discipline ought not to be carried to such an extent, as to 
overwhelm with sorrow the person whose benefit we are re- 
quired to regard as its principal object ; as we have before 
shown more at large. 



248 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK If 

CHAPTER 11. 

THE TRUE AND FALSE CHURCH COMPARED. 

We have already stated the importance which we ought to 
at ;ach to the ministry of the word and sacraments, and the ex- 
tent to which our reverence for it ought to be carried, so as to 
account it a perpetual mark and characteristic of the Church. 
That is to say, that wherever that exists entire and uncorrupted. 
ao errors and irregularities of conduct form a sufficient reason 
for refusing the name of a Church. In the next place, that the 
ministry itself is not so far vitiated by smaller errors, as to be 
considered on that account less legitimate. It has further been 
shown, that the errors which are entitled to this forgiveness 
are those by which the grand doctrine of religion is not injured, 
which do not suppress the points in which all believers ought 
to agree as articles of faith, and which, in regard to the sa- 
craments, neither abolish nor subvert the legitimate institution 
of their Author. But as soon as falsehood has made a breach 
in the fundamentals of religion, and the system of necessary 
doctrine is subverted, and the use of the sacraments fails, the 
certain consequence is the ruin of the Church, as there is an 
end of a man's life when his throat is cut, or his heart is mor- 
tally wounded. And this is evident from the language of Paul, 
when he declares the Church to be " built upon the foundation 
of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the 
chief corner-stone." (/i) If the foundation of the Church be 
the doctrine of the prophets and apostles, which enjoins be- 
lievers to place their salvation in Christ alone, how can the 
edifice stand any longer, when that doctrine is taken away ? 
The Chnrch, therefore, must of necessity fall, where that sys- 
tem of religion is subverted which alone is able to sustain it. 
Besides, if the true Church be " the pillar and ground of 
truth," (i) that certainly can be no Church where delusion and 
falsehood have usurped the dominion. 

II. As this is the state of things under the Papacy, it is easy 
to judge how much of the Church remains there. Instead of 
the ministry of the word, there reigns a corrupt government, 
composed of falsehoods, by which the pure light is suppressed 
or extinguished. An execrable sacrilege has been substituted 
for the supper of the Lord. The worship of God is deformed 
by a multifarious and intolerable mass of superstitions. The 
doctrine, without which Christianity cannot exist, has been 

(A 'phes. ii. 20 (0 1 T m lii. 15. 

,7// 



CHAf. 11. I CHRISTIAN KELIGION. 249 

entirely forj.^otten or exploded. The public assemblies have 
become st^nools of idolatry and impiety. In withdrawing our- 
selves, (hcietore, from the pernicious participation of so many 
enormitie.5, there is no danger of separating ourselves from 
the Church ot Christ. The communion of the Church was 
not instituted as a bond to confine us in idolatry, impiety, . 
ignoi-ance of God, and other evils ; but rather as a mean to 
preserve us in the fear of God, and obedience of the truth. I 
know that the Papists give us the most magnificent commen- 
dations of then- Church, to make us believe that there is no 
other in the world ; and then, as if they had gained their point, 
they conclude all who dare to withdraw themselves from that 
Church which they describe, to be schismatics, and pronounce 
till to be heretics who venture to open their mouths in opposi- 
tion to its doctrine. But by what reasons do they prove theirs 
to be the true Church ? They allege from ancient records 
what formerly occurred in Italy, in France, in Spain ; that they 
are descended from those holy men, who by sound doctrine 
founded and raised the Churches in these countries, and con- 
firmed their doctrine and the edification of the Church by 
their blood ; and that the Church, thus consecrated among 
them, both by spiritual gifts, and by the blood of martyrs, has 
been preserved by a perpetual succession of bishops, that it 
might never be lost. They allege the importance attached to 
this succession by Irenasus, Tertullian, Origen, Augustine, and 
others. To those who are willing to attend me in a brief 
examination of these allegations, I will clearly show that they 
are frivolous, and manifestly ridiculous. I would likewise ex- 
hort those who advance them, to pay a serious attention to the 
subject, if I thought my arguments could produce any effect 
upon them ; but as their sole object is to promote their own 
interest by every method in their power, without any regard 
to truth, I shall content myself with making a few observations, 
with which good men, and inquirers after truth, may be able 
to answer their cavils. In the first place, I ask them, why 
they allege nothing respecting Africa, and Egypt, and all Asia. 
It is because, in all those countries, there has been a failure of 
this sacred succession of bishops, by virtue of which they boast 
that the Church has been preserved among them. They come 
to this point, therefore, that they have the true Church, be- 
cause from its commencement it has never been destitute of 
bishops, for that some have been succeeded by others in an 
uninterrupted series. But what if I oppose them with the ex- 
ample of Greece ? I ask them again, therefore, why they assert 
t.i.at the Church has been lost among the Greeks, among whom 
there has never been any interruption of that succession of 
bishops, which they consider as the sole guard and preservative 
VOL. II. 32 



250 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

of the ( Iiiirch ? They call the Greeks schismatics. For what 
reason'; Because7TrTs pretended, they have lost /neir privi- 
lege by revolting from the Apostolical see. But do not they 
I much more deserve to lose it, who have revolted from Christ 
I himself' It follows, therefore, that their plea of uninterrupted 
I succession is a vain pretence, unless tHe truth of Christ, which 
I was transmitted from the fathers, be permanently retained pure 
and uncorrupted by their posterity. 

III. The pretensions of the Romanists, therefore, in the 
present day, are no other than those which appear to have been 
formerly set up by the Jews, when they were reproved by the 
prophets of the Lord for blindness, impiety, and idolatry. For 
as the Jews boasted of the temple, the ceremonies, and the 
priesthood, in which things they firmly believed the Church to 
consist ; so, instead of the Church, the Papists produce certain 
external forms, which are often at a great distance from the 
Church, and are not at all necessary to its existence. Wherefore 
we need no other argument to refute them, than that which was 
urged by Jeremiah against that foolish confidence of the Jews: 
"Trust ye not in lying words, saying. The temple of the Lord, 
the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these." (k) 
For the Lord acknowledges no jjlace as his temple, where his 
word is not heard and devoutly observed. So, though the 
glory of God resided between the cherubim in the sanctuary, 
and he had promised his people that he would make it his 
permanent seat, yet when the priests had corrupted his wor- 
ship by perverse superstitions, he departed, and left the place 
without any sanctity. If that temple which appeared to be 
consecrated to the perpetual residence of God, could be forsaken 
and desecrated by him, there can be no reason for their pre- 
tending that God is so attached to persons or places, or confined 
to external observances, as to be constrained to remain among 
those who have nothing but the name and appearance of the 
Church. And this is the argument which is maintained by 
Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, from the ninth chapter to 
the twelfth. For it had violently disturbed weak consciences, 
to observe that, while the Jews appeared to be the peoj)le of 
God, they not only rejected, but also persecuted, the doctrine 
of the gospel. Therefore, after having discussed that doctrine, 
he removes this difficulty ; and denies the claim of those Jews, 
who were enemies of the truth, to be considered as the Church, 
though in other respects they wanted nothing that coull be 
requisite to its external form. And the only reason for thJs 
denial was, because they did not receive Christ. He speaks 
rather mo^e explicitly in the Epistle to the Galatians, (1) where, 

(k) Jet. Tii. 4. (Z) Gal. iy. 



CHAP. II. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 251 

in a comparison between Ishmael and Isaac, he represents many 
as occupying a place in the Church, who have no right to the 
mheritance, because they are not the children of a free mother. 
Hence he proceeds to a contrast of the two Jerusalems, because 
as the law was given on Mount Sinai, but the gospel came 
forth from Jerusalem, so many who have been born and edu- 
cated ill bondage, confidently boast of being the children of God 
and of the Chinch, and though they are themselves a spurious 
offspring, look down with contempt on his genuine and legiti- 
mate children. But as tor us, on the contrary, who have once 
heard it proclaimed from heaven, " Cast out the bondwoman 
and her son," let us confide in this inviolable decree, and reso- 
lutely despise their ridiculous pretensions. For if they pride 
themselves on an external profession, Ishmael also was circum- 
cised. If they depend on antiquity, he was the first born. 
Yet we see that he was rejected. If the cause of this be in- 
quired, Paul tells us that none are accounted children but those 
who are born of the pure and legitimate seed of the word, [m) 
According to this reason, the Lord declares that he is not con- 
fined to impious priests, because he had made a covenant with 
their father Levi to be his angel or messenger, [n) He even 
retorts on them their false boasting, with which they were 
accustomed to oppose the prophets, that the dignity of the 
priesthood ought to be held in peculiar estimation. This he 
readily admits, and argues with them on this ground, because 
he was prepared to observe the covenant, whereas they failed 
of discharging the correspondent obligations, and therefore de- 
served to be rejected. See, then, what such succession is 
worth, unless it be connected with a continual imitation and 
conformity. Without this, the descendants, who are convicted 
of a departure from their predecessors, must immediately be 
deprived of all honour ; unless, indeed, because Caiaphas was 
the successor of many pious priests, and there had been an 
uninterru(jted series even from Aaron to him, that execrable 
assembly be deemed worthy to be called the Church. But it 
would not be tolerated even in earthly governments, that the 
tyranny of Caligula, Nero, Heliogabalus, and others, should be 
called the true state of the republic, because they succeeded 
the Bruti, the Scipios, and the Camilli. But in regard to the 
government of the Church, nothing can be more frivolous than 
tb place the succession in the persons, to the neglect of the 
"''doctririie. And nothing was further from the intentions of "the 
""■"ftOty doctors, whose authority tht.y falsely obtrude upon us, 
than to prove that Churches existed by a kind of hereditary 
right, wherever there has been a constant succession of bishops 

{m) Rom. ix. 6—8. (n) Mai. ii. 1—9. 



252 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

But as it was beyond all doubt that, from the beginning even 
down to their times, no change had taken place in the doctrine, 
they assumed, what would suffice for the confutation of all new 
errors, that they were repugnant to the doctrine which had 
been constantly and unanimously maintained even from the 
days of the apostles. They will gain nothing, therefore, by 
persisting to disguise themselves under the name of the Church. 
The Church we regard Avith becoming reverence ; but when 
they come to the definition, they are miserably embarrassed, for 
they substitute an execrable harlot in the place of the holy 
spouse of Christ. That we may not be deceived by such a sub- 
stitution, beside other admonitions, let us remember this of Au- 
gustine ; for, speaking of the Church, he says, " It is sometimes 
obscured and beclouded by a multitude of scandals ; sometimes 
it appears quiet and unmolested in a season of tranquillity, and 
is sometimes disturbed and overwhelmed with the waves of 
tribulations and temptations.'' He produces examples, that 
those who were its firmest pillars, have either undauntedly suf- 
fered banishment on account of the faith, or secluded them- 
selves from all society. 

IV. In the same manner, the Romanists in the present day 
harass us, and terrify ignorant persons with the name of the 
Church, though there are no greater enemies to Christ than 
themselves. Although they may pretend therefore to the temple, 
the priesthood, and other similar forms, this vain glitter, which 
dazzles the eyes of the simple, ought by no means to induce us 
to admit the existence of a Church, where we cannot discover 
the word of God. For this is the perpetual mark by which our 
Lord has characterized his people : " Every one that is of the 
truth heareth my voice." (o) And, "I am the good Shepherd, 
"and know my sheep, and am known of mine." " My sheep 
hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." He 
had just before said, " The sheep follow their shepherd ; for 
they know his voice ; and a stranger will they not follow, but 
will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers." (p] 
Why, then, do we wilfully run into error in forming a judgment 
of the Church, since Christ has designated it by an unequivocal 
character, that wherever it is discovered, it infallibly assures 
us of the existence of a Church, and wherever it is wanting, 
there is no real evidence of a Church left. For Paul de- 
clares the Church to be founded, not upon the opinions of 
men, not upon the priesthood, but upon the "doctrine of the 
apostles and prophets." {q) And Jerusalem is to be distin- 
guished from Babylon, the Clmrch of Christ from the syna-ji xgue 
of Satan, by this difference, by which Christ has discriminated 

(o) John xviii. 37 (p) John x. 4, .5, 14, 27. (q) Ephes. ii. 20. 



CHAP. II.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION 253 

them from each other . "He that is of God, lieareth God's words ; 
ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God."(r) 
In fine, as the Church is the kingdom of Christ, and he reigns 
only by his word, can any person doubt the falsehood of those 
pretensions, which represent the kingdom of Christ as destitute 
of his sceptre, that is, of his holy word ? 

V. With respect to the charge which they bring against us of 
heresy and schism, because we preach a different doctrine from 
theirs, and submit not to their laws, and hold separate as- 
semblies for prayers, for baptism, for the administration of the 
Lord's supper, and other sacred exercises, it is indeed a most 
heavy accusation, but such as by no means requires a long or la- 
borious defence. The appellations of heretics and schismatics 
are applied to persons who cause dissension, and destroy the com* 
munion of the Church. Now, this communion is preserved by 
two bonds — agreement in sound doctrine, and brotherly love. 
Between heretics and schismatics, therefore, Augustine makes 
he following distinction — that the former corrupt the purity of 
the faith by false doctrines, and that the latter break the bond 
of affection, sometimes even while they retain the same faith. 
But it is also to be remarked, that this union of affection is 
dependent on the uuity of faith, as its foundation, end, and rule. 
Let us remember, therefore, that, whenever the unity of the 
Church is enjoined upon us in the Scripture, it is required, 
that, while our minds hold the same doctrines in Christ, our 
wills should likewise be united in mutual benevolence in Christ. 
Therefore, Paul, when he exhorts us to it, assumes as a foimda- 
tion, that there is "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism." (s) 
And when he inculcates our being "like-minded, and having 
the same love, being of one accord, of one mind," (t) he im- 
mediately adds, that this should be in Christ, or according to 
Christ ; signifying that all union which is formed without the 
word of the Lord, is a faction of the impious, and not an asso- 
ciation of believers. 

VL Cyprian, also, after the example of Paul, deduces the 
origin of all ecclesiastical concord from the supreme bishopric 
of Christ. He afterwards subjoins, " There is but one Church, 
which is widely extended into a multitude by the offspring of 
its fertility; just as there are many rays of the sun, but the 
light is one ; and a tree has many branches, but only one trunk, 
fixed on a firm root. And when many rivers issue from one 
source, though by its exuberant abundance t!ie stream is mul- 
tiplied into numerous currents, yet the unity of the fountain 
still remains. Separate a ray from the body of the sun, and its 
unity sustains no division. Break off a branch from a tree, and 
the broken branch can never bud. Cut off a river from the 

'r) John viii. 47 (*•) Ephps. iv. 5. (() Phil. ii. 2, o 



i »4 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

source, anu it immediately dries up. So the Church, overspread 
with the Hght of the Lord, is extended over the whole world : 
yet it is one and the same light which is universally diffused." 
No representation could be more elegant to express that insepa- 
rable ctjuiiectiou which subsists between all the members of 
Christ. We see how he continually recalls us to the fountain- 
head. Therefore he pronounces the origin of heresies and 
schisms to be, that men neither return to the source of truth, 
nor seek the Head, nor attend to the doctrine of the heavenly 
Master. Now, let the Romanists exclaim that we are heretics, 
because we have withdrawn from their church ; while the sole 
cause of our secession has been, that theirs cannot possibly be 
the pure profession of the truth. I say nothing of their having 
expelled us with anathemas and execrations. But this reason 
is more than sufficient for our exculpation, unless they are 
determined to pronounce sentence of schism also against the 
apostles, with whom we have but one common cause. Christ, 
I say, foretold to his apostles, that for his name's sake they 
should be cast out of the synagogues, (v) Now, those syna- 
gogues, of which he spoke, were then accounted legitimate 
Churches. Since it is evident, then, that we have been cast 
out, and we are prepared to prove that this has been done for 
the name of Christ, it is necessary to inquire into the cause, 
before any thing be determined respecting us, either on one side 
or the other. But this point I readily relinquish to them. It is 
sufficient for me that it was necessary for us to withdraw from 
them, in order to approach to Christ. 

VII. But it will be still more evident, in what estimation 
we ought to hold all the Churches who have submitted to the 
tyranny of the Roman pontiff, if we compare them with the 
ancient Church of Israel, as delineated by the prophets. There 
was a true Church among the Jews and the Israelites, while 
they continued to observe the laws of the covenant ; because 
they then obtained from the favour of God those things which 
constitute a Church. They had the doctrine of truth in the 
law ; the ministry of it was committed to the priests and 
prophets ; they were initiated into the Church by the sign of 
circumcision ; and were exercised in other sacraments for the 
confirmation of their faith. There is no doubt that the com- 
mendations, with which the Lord has honoured his Church, 
truly belonged to their society. But after they deserted the 
law of the Lord, and fell into idolatry and superstition, they 
partly lost this privilege. For who would dare to refuse the 
title of a Church to those among whom God deposited the 
preaching of his word, and the observance of his mysteries ? 

(v) John xvi. 2. 



CHAP. II.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 265 

On the other hand, who would dare to give the appellation of 
a Church, without any exception, to that society, where th«» 
word ol" God is openly and fearlessly trampled under foot 
where its ministry, the principal sinew, and even the soul of 
the Church, is discontinued ? 

VIII, What, then, it will be said, was there no particle of a 
Church. 3ft among the Jews from the moment of theii defection 
to idolatry ? The answer is easy. In the first place, I observe, 
that in this defection there were several degrees. Nor will we 
maintain the fall of Judah, and that of Israel, to have been ex- 
actly the same, at the time when they both began to depart 
from the pure worship of God. When Jeroboam made the 
calves, in opposition to the express prohibition of God, ana 
dedicated a place which it was not lawful to use for the oblatiou 
of sacrifices, in this case religion was totally corrupted. Tho 
Jews polluted themselves with practical impieties and supersti- 
tions, before they made any unlawful changes in the exteriKil 
forms of religion. For though they generally adopted many 
corrupt ceremonies in the time of Rehoboam, yet as the doctrine 
of the law, and the priesthood, and the rites which God had 
instituted, were still preserved at Jerusalem, believers had 
in that kingdom a tolerable form of a Church. Among the 
Israelites, there was no reformation down to the reign of Ahab, 
and in his time there was an alteration for the worse. Of the 
succeeding kings, even to the subversion of the kingdom, some 
resembled Ahab, and others, who would be a little better, followed 
the example of Jeroboam ; but all, without exception, were 
impious idolaters. In Judah there were various changes ; some 
kings corrupted the worship of God with false and groundless 
superstitions, and others restored religion from its abuses ; till, 
at length, the priests themselves polluted the temple of God 
with idolatrous and abominable rites. 

IX. Now, however the Papists may extenuate their vices, let 
them deny, if they can, that the state of religion is as corrupt and 
depraved among them, as it was in the kingdom of Israel, in 
the time of Jeroboam. But they practise a grosser idolatry, and 
their doctrine is equally, if not more, impure. God is my 
witness, and all men who are endued with moderate judgment, 
and the fact itself declares, that in this I am guilty of no exag- 
geration. Now, when they try to drive us into the communion 
of their Church, they require two things of us — fii'st, that we 
should communicate in all their prayers, sacraments, and cere- 
monies ; secondly, that whatever honour, power, and jurisdic- 
tion, Christ has conferred upon his Church, we should attribute 
the same to theirs. With respect to the first point, I confess 
that the prophets who were at Jerusalem, when the state of ' 
affairs •hci!' was very corrupt, neither offered up sacrifices apail 



256 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

from others, nor held separate assemblies for prayer. For they 
had the express command of God, that they were to assemble 
in the temple of Solomon ; and they knew that the Levitical 
priests, because they had been ordained by the Lord as min- 
isters of the sacrifices, and had not been deposed, however 
unworthy they might be of such honour, still retained the 
lawful possession of that place. But, what is the principal 
point of the whole controversy, they were not constrained to 
join in any superstitious worship ; on the contrary, they en- 
gaged in no service that was not of Divine institution. But what 
resemblance is there to this among the Papists ? We can scarcely 
assemble with them on a single occasion, without polluting 
ourselves with open idolatry. The principal bond of their com- 
munion is certainly the mass, which we abominate as the 
greatest sacrilege. Whether we are right or wrong in this, will 
be seen in another place. It is sufficient, at present, to show 
that, in this respect, our case is different from that of the 
prophets, who, though they were present at the sacrifices of 
impious persons, were never compelled to use, or to witness, 
any ceremonies but those which God had instituted. And if we 
wish to have an example entirely similar, we must take it from 
the kingdom of Israel. According to the regulations of Jeroboam, 
circumcision continued, sacrifices were offered, the law was 
regarded as sacred, the people invoked the same God whom 
their fathers had worshipped ; yet, on account of novel cere- 
monies invented in opposition to the Divine prohibitions, God 
disapproved and condemned all that was done there. Show me 
a single prophet, or any pious man, who even once worshipped 
or offered sacrifice at Bethel. They knew that they could not 
do it without contaminating themselves with sacrilege. We 
have established this point, therefore, that the attachment of 
pious persons to the communion of the Church, ought not to be 
carried to such an extent, as to oblige them to remain in it, if it 
degenerated into profane and impure rites. 

X. But against their second requisition, we contend upon still 
stronger ground. For if the Church be held in such considera- 
tion that we are required to revere its judgment, to obey its au- 
thority, to receive its admonitions, to fall under its censures, 
and scrupulously and uniformly to adhere to its communion, 
we cannot allow their claim to the character of the Church, 
without necessarily obliging ourselves to subjection and obe- 
dience. Yet we readily concede to them what the prophets 
conceded to the Jews and Israelites of their time, when things 
among them were in a similar, or even in a better state. But 
we see how they frequently exclaim, that their assemblies were 
iniquitous meetings, {w) a concurrence in which were as crimi- 

(lo) Isaiah i. 13, 14. 



CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 



2d, 



nal as a renunciation of God. And certainly, if i lose a^ssemolies 
weie Churches, it follows that Elijah, Micaiah, and others in 
Israel, wore strangers to the Church of God ; and the same 
would be true of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and others of that 
description in Judah, whom the false prophets, priests, and people i 
of their day, hated and execrated as if they had been worse than 
any heathens. If such assemblies were Churches, then the 
Church is not the pillar of truth, but a foundation of falsehood, 
not the sanctuary of the living God, but a receptacle of idols. 
They found themselves under a necessity, therefore, of with- 
drawing from all connection with those assemblies, which were 
nothing but a conspiracy against God. For the same reason.' 
if any one acknowledges the assemblies of the present day. 
which are contaminated with idolatry, superstition, and false 
doctrine, as true Churches, in full communion with which a 
Christian man ought to continue, and in whose doctrine he ought 
to coincide, this will be a great error. For if they be Churches, ; 
they possess the power of the keys ; but the keys are insepa- 
rably connected with the word, which is exploded from among , 
them. Again, if they be Chiu-ches, that promise of Christ must 
be applicable to them — "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth 
shall he bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on ' 
earth shall be loosed in heaven." (x) On the contrary, all who 
sincerely profess themselves to be the servants of Christ, they 
expel from their communion. Either, therefore, the promise 
of Christ must be vain, or in this respect they are not , 
Churches. Lastly, instead of the ministry of the word, they 
have schools of impiety, and a gulf of every species of errors • 
Either, therefore, in this respect they are not Churches, or no 
mark will be left to distinguish the legitimate assemblies of 
believers from the conventions of Turks. 

XI. Nevertheless, as in former times the Jews continued in 
possession of some peculiar privileges of the Church, so we 
refuse not to acknowledge, among the Papists of the present 
day, those vestiges of the Church which it has pleased the Lord 
should remain among them after its removal. When God had 
once made his covenant with the Jews, it continued among 
them, rather because it was supported by its own stability 
in opposition to their impiety, than in consequence of their 
observance of it. Such, therefore, was the certainty and con- 
stancy of the Divine goodness, the covenant of the Lord 
remained among them ; his faithfulness could not be obliterated 
Dy their perfidy ; noi: could circumcision be so profaned by their 
impure hands, but that it was always the true sign and sacra- 
ment of his covenant. Hence the children that were born 

(x) Matt, xviii. 18. 

VOL. II. 33 



258 iNSTjrurES of the [book iv 

to them, God calls his own, {y) though they could not have 
belonged to hhn but by a special benediction. So after he had 
deposited his covenant in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and 
England, when those countries were oppressed by the tyranny 
of Antichrist, still, in order that the covenant might remain in- 
violable, as a testimony of that covenant, he preserved baptism 
among them, which, being consecrated by his lips, retains its 
virtue in opposition to all the impiety of men. He also, by his 
providence, caused other vestiges of the Church to remain, that 
it might not be entirely lost. And as buildings are frequently 
demolished in such a manner as to leave the foundations and 
ruins remaining, so the Lord has not suffered Antichrist either 
to subvert his Church from the foundation, or to level it with 
the ground ; though, to punish the ingratitude of men who 
despised his word, he has permitted a dreadful concussion and 
dilapidation to be made ; yet, amidst this devastation, he has 
been pleased to preserve the edifice from being entirely destroyed. 
XII. While we refuse, therefore, to allow to the Papists the 
title of the Church, without any qualification or restriction, we do 
not deny that there are Churches among them. We only con- 
tend for the true and legitimate constitution of the Church, which 
requires not only a communion in the sacraments, which are 
the signs of a Christian profession, but above all, an agreement 
in doctrine. Daniel and Paul had predicted that Antichrist 
would sit in the temple of God. {z) The head of that cursed 
and abominable kingdom, in the Western Church, we affirm to 
be the Pope. When his seat is placed in the temple of God, it 
suggests, that his kingdom will be such, that he will not abolish 
the name of Christ, or the Church. Hence it appears, that we 
by no means deny that Churches may exist, even under his 
tyranny ; but he has profaned them by sacrilegious impiety, 
afflicted them by cruel despotism, corrupted and almost termi- 
nated their existence by false and pernicious doctrines, like poi- 
sonous potions ; in such Churches, Christ lies half buried, the 
gospel is suppressed, piety exterminated, and the worship of 
God almost abolished ; in a word, they are altogether in such a 
state of confusion, that they exhibit a picture of Babylon, rather 
than of the holy city of God. To conclude, I affirm that they 
are Churches, inasmuch as God has wonderfully preserved 
among them a remnant of his people, though miserably dispersed 
and dejected, and as there still remain some marks of the Church, 
especially those, the efficacy of which neither the craft of the 
devil nor the malice of men can ever destroy. But, on the other 
hand, because those marks, which we ought chiefly to regard in 



(y E/f k. XIV. 20. (z) Dan. ix. 27. 2 Thess. li. 3, 4. 



CHAP IIl.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 25^^ 

this controversy, are obliterated, I a/Tirm, that the form if the 
legitimate Church is not to be found either in any one of tlieii 
congregations, or in the body at large. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE TEACHERS AND MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH," THEIl ELEC- 
TION AND OFFICE. 

We must now treat of the order which it has been the Lord's 
vvill to appoint for the government of his Church. For although 
he alone ought to rule and reign in the Church, and to have all 
preeminence in it, and this government ought to be exercised 
and administered solely by his word, — yet, as he dwells not 
among us by a visible presence, so as to make an audible de- 
claration of his will to us, we have stated, that for this purpose 
he uses the ministry of men whom he employs as his delegates, 
not to transfer his right and honour to them, but only that he 
may himself do his work by their lips ; just as an artificer 
makes use of an instrument in the performance of his work. 
Some observations which I have made already, are necessary to 
be repeated here. It is true that he might do this either by 
himself, without any means or instruments, or even by angels ; 
but there are many reasons why he prefers making use of men. 
For, in the first place, by this method he declares his kindness 
towards us, since he chooses from among men those who are 
to be his ambassadors to the world, to be the interpreters of 
his secret will, and even to act as his personal representatives. 
And thus he affords an actual proof, that when he so fre- 
quently calls us his temples, it is not an unmeaning appel- 
lation, since he gives answers to men, even from the mouths 
of men, as from a sanctuary. In the second place, this is a 
most excellent and beneficial method to train us to humility, 
since he accustoms us to obey his word, though it is preached 
to us by men like ourselves, and sometimes even of inferior 
rank. If he were himself to speak from heaven, there would 
be no wonder if his sacred oracles were instantly received 
with reverence, by the ears and hearts of all mankind. For 
who would not be awed by his present power ? who would not 
fall prostrate at the first view of infinite Majesty ? who would 
not be confounded by that overpcwering splendour ? But 
when a contemptible mortal, who had just emerged from the 
dust, addresses us in the name of God, we give the best 



26U INSTI.-UTES or THE [bOOK IV. 

evidence of our piety and reverence towards God himself, if we 
readily submit to be instructed by his minister, who possesses 
no personal superiority to ourselves. For this reason, also, he has 
deposited the treasure of his heavenly wisdom in frail and 
earthen vessels, (a) in order to afford a better proof of the 
estimation in which we hold it. Besides, nothing was more 
adapted to promote brotherly love, than a mutual connection 
of men by this bond, while one is constituted the pastor to 
leach all the rest, and they who are commanded to be disci- 
ples, receive one common doctrine from the same mouth. For 
if each person were sufficient for himself, and had no need of 
the assistance of another, such is the pride of human nature, 
every one would despise others, and would also be desp.sed 
by them. The Lord, therefore, has connected his Church 
together, by that which he foresaw would be the strongest 
bond for the preservation of their union, when he committed 
the doctrine of eternal life and salvation to men, that by their 
hands it might be communicated to others. Paul had this 
in view when he wrote to the Ephesians, " There is one 
body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of 
your calling ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and 
Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you 
all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to 
the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith. When 
he ascended, up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave 
gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that 
he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth ? He 
that descended is the same also that ascended up far above 
all heavens, that he might fill all things. ) And he gave some, 

(apostles ; and some, prophets ; and some, evangelists ; and some, 
pastors and teachers ; for the perfecting of the saints, for the 
work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ ; 
till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the know- 
ledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the mea- 
sure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ; that we hence- 
forth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about 
with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cun- 
ning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive ; but, speak- 
ing the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which 
is the head, even Christ ; from whom the whole body fitly 
joined together, and compacted by that which every joint 
supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure 
of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying 
of itself in love." (6) 

IL In this passage he shows that the ministry of men, which 

(a) 2 Cor. iv. 7. (i) Eph. iv. 4—16. 



CHAP. III.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 261 

God employs in hii; government of the Church, is the pruicipal 
bond u'hich holds believers together in one body. He also 
indicates that the Church cannot be preserved in perfect safety, 
unless it be supported by these means which God has been 
pleased to appoint for its preservation. Christ, he says, " as- 
cended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things." (c) 
And this is the way in which he does it. By means of his 
ministers, to whom he has committed this office, and on whom 
he has bestowed grace to discharge it, he dispenses and distri- 
butes his gifts to the Church, and even affords some manifesta- 
tion of his own presence, by exerting the power of his Spirit in 
this his institution, that it may not be vain or ineffectual. 
Thus is the restoration of the saints effected ; thus is the body 
of Christ edified ; thus we grow up unto him who is our Head 
in all things, and are united with each other; thus we are all 
brought to the unity of Christ ; if prophecy flourishes among 
us, if we receive the apostles, if we despise not the doctrine 
which is delivered to us. Whoever, therefore, either aims to 
abolish or undervalue this order, of which we are treating, and 
this species of government, attempts to disorganize the Church, 
or rather to subvert and destroy it altogether. For neither the 
light and heat of the sun, nor any meat and drink, are so neces- 
sary to the nourishment and sustenance of the present life, as the 
apostolical and pastoral office is to the preservation of the Church | 
"m" the world. 

IH. Therefore I have already remarked, that God has fre- 
luently commended its dignity to us by every possible enco- 
mium, in order that we might hold it in the highest estimation 
and value, as more excellent than every thing else. That he 
confers a peculiar favour upon men by raising up teachers for 
them, he fully signifies, when he commands the prophet to 
exclaim, " How beautiful are the feet of him that publisheth 
peace; " {d) and when he calls the apostles "the light of the 
world/' and "the salt "of the earth." (e) Nor could that office 
be more splendidly distinguished than when he said to them, 
" He that heai-eth you, heareth me." (/) But there is no 
passage more remarkable than that in Paul 's Second Epistle to 
the Corinthians, where he professedly discusses this question. 
He contends, that there is nothing more excellent or glorious 
dian the ministry of the gospel in the Church, inasmuch as 
It is the ministration of the Spirit, and of righteousness, and of 
eternal life, (g) The tendency of these and similar passages, is 
•,0 preserve that mode of governing the Church by its ministers, 
which the Lord appointed to be of perpetual continuance, from 

(e) Eph. iv. 10. (d) Isaiah lii. 7. (e) Matt. v. 13, 14. 

(/) Luke X. 16. (^) 2 Cor i.i. 6, &c. 



262 INSTITUTES OF THE [BiiOR. V 

sinking into disesteem, and, at length, falling nto disuse throngl. 
mere contempt. And how exceedingly necessary it is, he has 
not only declared in words, but shown by examples. Wheu 
he was pleased to illuminate Cornelius more fully with tlie 
light of his truth, he despatched an angel from heaven to send 
Peter to him. When he designs to call Paul to the knowledge 
of himself, and to introduce him into the Church, he does not 
address him with his own voice, but sends him to a man to re- 
ceive the doctrine of salvation, and the sanctification of baptism. 
If it was not without sufficient reason, that an angel, who is 
the messenger of God, refrains from announcing the Divine will 
himself, and directs a man to be sent for in order to declare it, — 
and that Christ, the sole Teacher of believers, committed Paul 
to the instruction of a man, the same Paul whom he had deter- 
mined to elevate into the third heaven, and to favour with a 
miraculous revelation of things unspeakable, — who can now 
dare to despise that ministry, or to neglect it as unnecessary, the 
utility and necessity of which God has been pleased to evince 
by such examples ? 

IV. Those who preside over the government of the Church, 
according to the institution of Christ, are named by Paul, first, 
" apostles ; " secondly. " prophets ; " thirdly, " evangelists ; " 
fourthly, " pastors : " lastly, " teachers." (A) Of these, only the 
two last sustain an ordinary office in the Church : the others were 
such as the Lord raised up at the commencement of his king- 
dom, and such as he still raises up on particular occasions, when 
required by the necessity of the times. The nature of the 
apostolic office is manifest from this command: "Go preach 
the gospel to every creature." (?) No certain limits are j^re- 
scribed, but the whole world is assigned to them, to be re- 
duced to obedience to Christ ; that by disseminating the go^.pel 
wherever they could, they might erect his kingdom in all 
nations. Therefore Paul, when he wished to prove his apostle- 
ship, declares, not merely that he had gained some one city for 
Christ, but that he had propagated the gospel far and wide, 
and that he had not built upon the foundation of others, but had 
planted Churches where the name of the Lord had never been 
heard before. The " apostles," therefore, were missionaries, who 
were to reduce the world from their revolt to true obedience to 
God, and to establish his kingdom universally by the preaching 
of the gospel. Or, if you please, they were t\n\ first architects 
of the Church, appointed to lay its foundations all over the 
world. Paul gives the appellation of " prophets," not to all 
interpreters of the Divine will, but only to those who were 
honoured with some special revelation. Of these, eithei ther» 

(h) Eph. iv. n (i) Mark xvi. m 



CHAP. III.] CHRISTIAN HELIGION. 263 

are none in our day, or they are less conspicuois. By "evan- 
gelists," I understand those who were inferior to the apostles 
in dignity, but next to them in office, and who performed sim- 
ilar functions. Such were Luke, Timothy, Titus, and others 
of that description ; and perhaps also the seventy disciples, 
whom Christ ordained to occupy the second station from the 
apostles, {k) According to this interpretation, which appears 
to me perfectly consistent with the language and meaning of 
the apostle, those three offices were not instituted to be of 
oerpetual continuance in the Church, but only for that age 
when Churches were to be raised where none had existed be- 
fore, or were at least to be conducted from Moses to Christ. 
Though I do not deny, that, even since that period, God has 
sometimes raised up apostles or evangelists in their stead, as 
he has done in our own time. For there was a necessity for 
such persons to recover the Church from the defection of An- 
tichrist. Nevertheless, I call this an extraordinary office, , 
because it has no place in well-constituted Churches. Next 
follow " pastors " and " teachers," who are always indispensable 
to the Church. The difference between them I apprehend to 
be this — that teachers have no official concern with the disci- 
pline, or the administration of the sacraments, or with admoni- 
tions and exhortations, but only with the interpretation of the 
Scripture, that pure and sound doctrine may be retained among 
believers ; whereas the pastoral office includes all these things. 
V. We have now ascertained what offices were appointed to 
continue for a time in the government of the Church, and what 
were instituted to be of perpetual duration. If we connect 
the evangelists with the apostles, as sustaining the same office, 
we shall then have two offices of each description, correspond- 
ing to each other. For our pastors bear the same resemblance 
to the apostles, as our teachers do to the ancient prophets. 
The office of the prophets was more excellent, on account of 
the special gift of revelation, by which they were distinguished ; 
but the office of teachers is executed ni a similar manner, and 
has precisely the same end. So those twelve individuals, 
whom the Lord chose to promulgate the first proclamation of 
his gospel to the world, preceded all others in order and dignity. 
For although, according to the moaning and etymology of the 
word, all the ministers of the Church may be called apostles, 
because they are all sent by the Lord, and are his messengers, 
yet, as it was of great importance to have a certain knowledge 
of the mission of persons who were to announce a thing new 
and unheard before, it was necessary that those twelve, together 
with Paul, who was afterwards added to their number, should 
lie distinguished beyond all others by a peculiar title. Paul 

(A) Luke X. 1. 



264 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

himself, indejd, gives this name to "Andronicus and Junia 
who," he says, "are of note among the apostles ;" (Z) but 
when he means to speak with strict propriety, he never applies 
that name except to those of the fiist order that we have men- 
tioned. And this is the common usage of the Scripture. But 
the province of pastors is the same as that of the apostles, ex- 
cept that they preside over particular Churches respectively 
committed to each of them. Of the nature of their functions 
let us now proceed to a more distinct statement. 

VI Our Lord, when he sent forth his apostles, commissioned 
them, as we have just remarked, to preach the gospel, and to 
baptize all believers for the remission of sins, (m) He had 
already commanded them to distribute the sacred symbols of 
his body and blood according to his own example, (w) Behold 
the sacred, inviolable, and perpetual law imposed upon those 
who call themselves successors of the apostles ; it commands 
them to preach the gospel, and to administer the sacraments* 
Hence we conclude, that those who neglect both these duties 
have no just pretensions to the character of apostles. But what 
shall we say of pastors ? Paul speaks not only of himself, but of 
all who bear that office, when he says, " Let a man so account 
of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries 
of God." (o) Again : " A bishop must hold fast the faithful word 
as he hath been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, 
both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." (p) From these 
and similar passages, which frequently occur, we may infer that 
the preaching of the gospel, and the administration of the sacra- 
ments, constitute the two principal parts of the pastoral office. 
Now, the business of teaching is not confined to public discourses, 
but extends also to private admonitions. Thus Paul calls upon 
the Ephesians to witness the truth of his declaration, " I have kept 
back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed 
you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, 
testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance 
toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." And a 
little after : " I ceased not to warn every one, night and day, with 
tears." (q) But it is no part of my present design, to enumerate 
all the excellences of a £ood,pastor, but only to show what is 
implied in the profession of those who call themselves pastors ; 
namely, that they preside over the Church in that station, not 
that they may enjoy a respectable sinecure, but to instruct the 
people in true piety by the doctrine of Christ, to administer the 
holy mysteries, to maintain and exercise proper discipline. For 
th-^ Lord denounces to all those who have been stationed as 



H) Rom. xvi. 7. (n) Luke xxii. 19. (p) Titus i. 7, 9. 

m) Ma« xxviii. 19. (o) 1 Cor. iv. 1. (y) Acts xx. 20, 21, 31 



rilAP. lll.j CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 265 

watchmen in the Chnrch, that if any one perish in ignorance 
thiough their negligence, he will require the blood of such a 
person at their hands. (/■} What Paul says of himself, belongs 
to them all : " VVoe is unto me, if 1 preach not the gospel," be- 
jiauseJ^a_dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me." (s) 
Lastly, what the apostles did for the Whole world, that every 
•ndividual pastor ought to do for his flock to which he is 
ippointed. 

VII. While we assign to them all respectively their distinct 
Churches, yet we do not deny that a pastor, who is connected with 
one Church, may assist others, either when any disputes arise, 
which may require his presence, or when his advice is asked 
upon any difficult subject. But because, in order to preserve 
the peace of the Church, there is a necessity for such a regulation 
as shall clearly define to every one what duty he has to do, lest 
they should all fall into disorder, run hither and thither in un- 
certainty without any call, and all resort to one place ; and lest 
those who feel more solicitude for their personal accommodation 
than for the edification of the Church, should, without any 
cause but their own caprice, leave the Churches destitute, — 
this distribution ought as far as possible to be generally observed, 
that every one may be content with his own limits, and not 
invade the province of another. Nor is this an invention of 
men, but an institution of God himself For we read that Paul 
and Barnabas " ordained elders in the respective Churches of 
Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch ; " [t) and Paul himself directed 
Titus to "ordain elders in every city." (y) So in other pas- 
sages he mentions " the bishops at Philippi," (w) and iVrchippus, 
the bishop of the Colossians. (x) And a remarkable speech 
of his is preserved by Luke, addressed to " the elders of the 
Church of Ephesus." (y) Whoever, therefore, has undertaken 
the government and charge of one Church, let him know that 
he is bound to this law of the Divine call ; not that he is fixed 
to his station so as never to be permitted to leave it in a regular 
and orderly manner, if the public benefit should require it ; but 
he who has been called to one place, ought never to think either 
of departing from his situation, or relinquishing the office alto- 
gether, from any motive of personal convenience or advantage. 
But if it be expedient that he should remove to another station, 
he ought not to attempt this on his own private opinion, but to 
be guided by public authority. 

VIII. In calling those who preside over Churches by the appel- 
lations of bishops, elders, pastors, and ministers, without any dis- 



(r) Ezea. iii. 17, 18. (v) Titus i. 5. (x) Col. iv 17. 

Is) 1 Cor. ix. 16, 17. (w) Phil. i. 1. (y) Acts xx. 17, &c. 

(t) Acts xiv. 21, 23 

VOL. 11. 34 



266 INSTITUTES W THE [Bv OK IV. 

tinction, I have followed the usage of the Scripture, which applies 
all these terms to express the same meaning. For to all who 
discharge the ministry of the word, it gives the title of " bishops." 
So when Paul enjoins Titus to " ordain elders in every city," 
he immediately adds, *' For a bishop must be blameless." (z) 
So in another Epistle he salutes more bishops than one in one 
Church, (a) And in the Acts he is declared to have sent for 
the elders of the Church of Ephesus, whom, in his address to 
them, he calls " bishops." (6) Here it must be observed, that 
we have enumerated only those ofiices which consist in the 
ministry of the word ; nor does Paul mention any- other in the 
fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, which we have 
quoted. But in the Epistle to the Romans, and the First Epis- 
tle to the Corinthians, he enumerates others, as " powers," 
" gifts of healing," " interpretation of tongues," " governments," 
"care of the poor." (c) Those functions which were merely 
temporary, I omit, as foreign to our present subject. But there 
are two which perpetually remain — " government," and "the 
care of the poor." "Governors" I apprehend to have been 
persons of advanced years, selected from the people, to unite 
with the bishops in giving admonitions and exercising disci- 
pline. For no other interpretation can be given of that injunc- 
tion, " He that ruleth, let him do it with diligence." (d) There- 
fore, from the beginning, every Church has had its senate or coun- 
cil, composed of pious, grave, and holy men, who were invested 
with that jurisdiction in the correction of vices, of which we 
shall soon treat. Now, that this regulation was not of a single 
age, experience itself demonstrates. This office of government 
is necessary, therefore, in every age. 

IX. The care of the poor was committed to the " deacons." 
The Epistle to the Romans, however, mentions two functions 
of this kind. " He that giveth," says the apostle, " let him do 
it with simplicity : he that showeth mercy, with cheerful- 
ness." (e) Now, as it is certain that he there speaks of the 
public ofiices of the Church, it follows that there we^e two 
distinct orders of deacons. Unless my judgment deceive me, 
the former clause refers to the deacons who administer^'d the 
alms ; and the other to those who devoted themselves to the 
care of poor and sick persons : such as the widows men*ioned 
by Paul to Timothy. (/) For women could execute no other 
public office, than by devoting themselves to the service "^f the 
poor. If we admit this, — and it ought to be fully admitted, — 
there will be two classes of deacons, of whom one will «Msrve 

'x) Titus i 5, 7. («) Phil. i. 1. (h) Acts xx. 17, 28, iniaxn^ozi 

(c) 1 Cor. xii. 28, Svrauiic, /«g((T/4ar« lafiarwy, ytrr; yXwaowv, xvfitqrtjactg 

(d) Rom xii. 8 (e) Roin. xii. 8, fiiraSiSovt. tv unXorijri, 6 iXiwv, tv iXaQot^rrt. 

(/) ] Tim. V. 9, 10. 



CH\P. III. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. <267 

the CKiurch in dispensing the property given to the poor, tho 
othex in taking care ot' tiie poor themselves. — Though the 
word itself (6iaxo\na) is of more extensive signification, yet the 
Scripture particularly gives the title of " deacons " to those 
whom the Cliurch has appointed to dispense the alms and take 
care of the poor, and constituted stewards, as it were, of the 
common treasury of the poor ; and whose origin, institution, 
and office, are described in the Acts of the Apostles. For 
" when there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the 
Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily 
ministration," (g) the apostles pleaded their inability to dis- 
charge both offices, of the ministry of the word and the service 
of tables, and said to the multitude, " Wherefore, brethren, look 
ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy 
Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoiut over this business." 
See what were the characters of the deacons in the apostolic 
Church, and what ought to be the characters of ours, in con- 
formity to the primitive example. 

X. Now, as " all things " in the Church are required to " be 
done decently and in order," (A) there is nothing in which this 
ought to be more diligently observed, than the constitution of 
its government ; because there would be more danger from 
disorder in this case than in any other. Therefore, that rest- 
less and turbulent persons may not presumptuously intrude 
themselves into the office of teaching or of governing, it is 
expressly provided, that no one shall assume a public office 
in the Church without a call. In order, therefore, that any 
one may be accounted a true minister of the Church, it is ne- 
cessary, in the first place, that he be regularly called to it, and, 
in the second place, that he answer his call ; that is, by underta- 
king and executing the office assigned to him. This may fre- 
quently be observed in Paul ; who, when he wishes to prove 
his apostleship, almost always alleges his call, together with 
his fidelity in the execution of the office. If so eminent a 
minister of Christ dare not arrogate to himself an authority to 
require his being heard in the Church, but in consequence of 
his appointment to it by a Divine commission, and his faithful 
discharge of the duty assigned him, — what extreme impudence 
must it be, if any man, destitute of both these characters, 
should claim such an honour for himself! But having already 
spoken of the necessity of discharging the office, let us now 
confine ourselves to the call. 

XI. Now, the discussion of this subject includes four 
branches : what ire the qualifications of ministers ; in what 
manner they are to be chosen ; by whom they ouglit to be 

(^) Acts vi 1—3. (A) 1 Cor. xiv. 40. 



2(r8 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOR IV 

appointed ; and with what rite or ceremony they are to be in 
troduced into their office. I speak of the external and solemn 
call, which belongs to the public order of the Church ; passing 
over that secret call, of which every minister is conscious to 
himself before God, but which is not known to the Church 
This secret call, however, is the honest testimony of our heart, 
that we accept the office offered to us, not from ambition or 
avarice, or any other unlawful motive, but from a sincere fear 
jf God, ^nd an ardent zeal for the edification of the Church. 
This, as I have hinted, is indispensable to every one of us, if 
we won.ld approve our ministry in the sight of God. In the 
view of the Church, however, he who enters on his office with 
an ev"' conscience, is nevertheless duly called, provided his in'- 
quitv be not discovered. It is even common to speak of pri- 
vate persons as called to the ministry, who appear to be adapted 
and qualified for the discharge of its duties ; because learning, 
c*>nnected with piety and other endowments of a good pastor, 
f.onstitutes a kind of preparation for it. For those whom the 
(jord has destined to so important an office, he first furnishes 
with those talents which are requisite to its execution, that 
they may not enter upon it empty and unprepared. Hence 
Paul, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, when he intended to 
treat of the offices themselves, first enumerated the gifts which 
ought to be possessed by the persons who sustain those offices, (i) 
But as this is the first of the four points which I have proposed, 
let us now proceed to it. 

XII. The qualifications of those who ought to be chosen 
bishops, are stated at large by Paul in two passages, (k) The 
sum of all he says is, that none are to be chosen but men of 
sound doctrine and a holy life, not chargeable with any fault 
that may destroy their authority, or disgrace their ministry. 
The same rule is laid down for the deacons and governors. 
Constant care is required, that they be oot unequal to the bur- 
den imposed upon them, or, in other words, that they be en- 
dowed with those talents which are necessary to the discharge 
of their duty. So, when Christ was about to send forth his 
apostles, he furnished them with such means and powers as 
were indispensable to their success. (/) And Paul, after having 
delineated the character of a good and genuine bishop, admo- 
nishes Timothy not to contaminate himself by the appointment 
of any one of a different description, (m) The question rela- 
ting to the manner in which they are to be chosen, I refer not 
t^ the form of election, but to the religious awe which ought 
to be observed in it. Hence the fasting and prayer, Miiich 

Ci) 1 Cor. xii 7, «fec. (0 Luke xxi. 15; xxiv. 49. Acts i. e 

(A) 1 Tim. iii. 1, &c Titus i. T, &c (w) 1 Tim. v. 22. 



CHAP Ill.j CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 269 

Luke states to have been practised by the faithful at the ordina- 
tion of elders, (n) For knowing themselves to be engaged in a 
business of the highest importance, they dared not attempt any 
thing but with the greatest reverence and solicitude. And 
above all things, they were earnest in prayers and supplications 
to God for the spirit of wisdom and discretion. 

XIII. The third inquiry we proposed was, by whom minis- 
ters are to be chosen. Now, for this no cerfStiT'i'ille can be 

"gathered from the appointment of the apostles, which was a case 
somewhat different from the common call of other ministers. 
For as theirs was an extraordinary office, it was necessary, in 
order to render it conspicuous by some eminent character, that 
they who were to sustain it should be called and appointed by the 
mouth of the Lord himself. The apostles, therefore, entered upon , 
their work, not in consequence of any human election, but em- f 
powered by thejole command of God and of Christ. Hence, I 
when they wish to substitute another in the place of Judas, 
they refrain from a certain appointment of any one, but nomi- 
nate two, that the Lord may declare by lot which of them he 
wills to be his successor, (o) In the same sense must be 
understood the declaration of Paul, that he had been created 
" an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, 
and God the Father." (p) The first clause^ not of men, was .;, 
applicable to him in common with all pious rrunTsters of the 
word ; for no man can lawfully exercise this ministry without 
having been called by God. The other clause was special and 
peculiar to himself. When he glories in this, therefore, he 
not only claims what belongs to a true and lawful pastor, 
but likewise brings forward an evidence of his apostleship. 
For whereas there were, among the Galatians, some who, from 
an eagerness to diminish his authority, represented him as a 
common disciple deputed by the primary apostles, — in order to 
vindicate the dignity of his preaching, against which he knew 
these artifices were directed, he found it necessary to show 
that he was not inferior to the other apostles in any respect. 
Wherefore he affirms, that he had not been elected by the judg- 
ment of men, like some ordinary bishop, but by the mouth and 
clear revelation of the Lord himself. 

XIV. But that the election and appointment of bishops by 
men is necessary to constitute a legitimate call to the office, no 
sober person will deny, while there are so mai.y testimonies of 
Scripture to establish it. Nor is it contradicted by that declara- 
tion of Paul, that he was ''an apostle, not of men, nor by man," (q) 
since he is not speaking in that passage of the ordinary election of 
ministers, but claiming to himself what was the special privilege 

n) Acts xiv. 23. (o) Acts i. 23. (;;) Gal. i. 1. (q) Gai. i. 1 



270 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

f)f the a])Ostles. The immediate designation of Paul, by the 
Lord himself, to this peculiar privilege, was nevertheless accom- 
panied with the form of an ecclesiastical call, for Luke states, 
that "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy 
Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where- 
uiito I have called them." (r) What end could be answered by 
this separation and imposition of hands after the Holy Spirit had 
testified their election, unless it was the preservation of the order 
of the Church in designating ministers by men ? God could 
not sanction that order, therefore, by a more illustrious example 
than when, after having declared that he had constituted Paul 
the apostle of the Gentiles, he nevertheless directed him to be 
designated by the Church. The same may be observed in the 
election of Matthias, (s) For the apostolic office being of such 
high importance that they could not venture to fill up their num- 
ber by the choice of any one person from their own judgment, 
they appointed two, one of whom was to be chosen by lot ; 
that so the election might obtain a positive sanction from Heaven, 
and yet that the order of the Church might not be altogether 
neglected. 

XV. Here it is inquired, whether a minister ought to be 
chosen by the whole Church, or only by the other ministers 
and the elders who preside over the discipline, or whether he 
may be appointed by the authority of an individual. Those 
who attribute this right to any one man, quote what Paul says to 
Titus : " For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldst 
ordain elders in every city ; " (t) and to Timothy: " Lay hands 
suddenly on no man." (v) But they are exceedingly mis 
taken, if they suppose that either Timothy at Ephesus, or 
Titus in Crete, exercised a sovereign power to regulate every 
thing according to his own pleasure. For they presided over 
the people, only to lead them by good and salutary counsels, not 
to act alone to the exclusion of all others. But that this may 
not be thought to be an invention of mine, I will prove it by a 
similar example. For Luke relates, that elders were ordained 
in the Churches by Paul and Barnabas, but at the same time he 
distinctly marks the manner in which this was done, — namely, 
by the suffrages or votes of the people ; for this is the meaning 
of the term he there employs — x^tpoTovriaavTss ■^r^e'fSvTSPovs ^ar' ixxXTj- 
cjav. (w) Those two apostles, therefore, ordained them ; but the 
whole multitude, according to the custom observed in elections 
among the Grecifs, declared by the elevation of their hands 
who was the object of their choice. So the Roman historians 
frequently speak of the consul, who held the assemblies, as 

{r) Acfs xiii. 2. (s) Acts i. 23. (f) Titus i. 5 

iv) 1 Tim. V. 22. (m>) Acts jciv. 23. 



CHAP, in. J ClIRIbTlAN PcELlvil'JA'. 271 

appointing the new magistrates, for no otiier reason but because 
he received the suffrages and presided at the election. Surely 
it ji> not credible that Paul granted to Timothy and Titus more 
power than he assumed to himself ; but we see that he was accus- 
tomed 10 ordain bishops according to the suffrages of the people. 
The above passages, therefore, ought to be understood in the 
same manner, to guard against all infringement of the common 
right and liberty of the Church. It is a good remark, therefore, 
of Cyprian, when he contends, " that it proceeds from Divine 
authority, that a priest should be elected publicly in the presence 
of all the people, and that he should be approved as a worthy 
and fit person by the public judgment and testimony." In the 
case of the Levitical priests, we find it was commanded by the 
Lord, that they should be brought forward in the view of the 
people before their consecration. Nor was Matthias added to 
the number of the apostles, nor were the seven deacons ai)point- 
ed, without the presence and approbation of the people. — ^ 
'•' These examples," says Cyprian, " show that the ordination 
of a priest ought not to be performed but with the knowledge 
and concurrence of the people, in order that the election 
which shall have been examined by the testimony of all, may 
be just and legitimate." We find, therefore, that it is a legiti- 
mate ministry according to the word of God, when those who 
appear suitable persons are appointed with the consent and ap- 
probation of the people ; but that other pastors ought to preside 
over the election, to guard the multitude from falling into any 
improprieties, through inconstancy, intrigue, or confusion. 

XVI. There remains the ^ijj^p of orjdiiiatiQn, which is the last 
point that we have mentioned relative to the call of ministers. 
Now, it appears that when the apostles introduced any one into 
the ministry, they used no other ceremony than imposition of 
hands. This rite, I believe, descended from the custom of the 
Hebrews, who, when they wished to bless and consecrate any 
tiling, presented it to God by imposition of hands. Thus, when 
Jacob blessed Ephraim andManasseh, he laid his hands upon their 
heads. (./;) This custom was followed by our Lord, when he 
prayed ov^er infants, {y) It was with the same design, I appre- 
hend, that the Jews were directed in the law to lay their hands 
upon their sacrifices. Wherefore the imposition of the hands 
of the apostles was an indication that they offered to God the 
person whom they introduced into the ministry. They used 
me^same ceremony over those on whom they conferred the 
visible gifts of the Spirit. , But, be that as it may, this was 
the so'emn rite invariably practised, whenever any one was 
called to the ministry of the Church. Thus they ordained 

(z) Gtn. xUiii 14. {y) Matt. xix. 15. 



272 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

/pgLgtors and teachers, and thus they ordained deacons. Now, 
/ though there is no express precept for the imposition of hands, 
I yet since we find it to have been constantly ustjd by the 
I apostles, such a punctual observance of it by them ought to 
^ have the force of a precept with us. And certainly this ceremony 
is highly useful both to recommend to the people the dignity of 
the ministry, and to admonish the person ordained that he is no 
^ionger his own master, but devoted to the service of God and 
the Church. Besides, it will not be an unmeaning sign, if it be 
restored to its true origin. For if the Spirit of God institutes 
nothing in the Church in vain, we shall perceive that this 
ceremony, which proceeded from him, is not without its use, 
provided it be not perverted by a superstitious abuse. Finally, 
it is to be remarked, that the imposition of hands on the minis- 
ters was not the act of the whole multitude, but was confined 
to the pastors. It is not certain whether this ceremony was, in 
all cases, performed by more pastors than one, or whether it 
was ever the act of a single pastor. The former appears to have 
been the fact in the case of the seven deacons, of Paul and Bar- 
nabas, and some few others, (z) But Paul speaks of himself as 
having laid hands upon Timothy, without any mention of many 
others having united with him. " I put thee in remembrance, that 
thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee, by the putting on of 
my hands." (a) His expression, in the other Epistle, of "the 
laying on of the hands of the presbytery," (6) I apprehend not 
to signify a company of elders, but to denote the ordination 
itself; as if he had said, Take care that the grace which thou 
receivedst by the laying on of hands, when I ordained thee a 
presbyter, be not in vain. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE STATE OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH, AND THE MODE OF 
GOVERNMENT PRACTISED BEFORE THE PAPACY. 

Hitherto we have treated of the mode of government ni 
the Church, as it has been delivered to us by the pure word of 
God, and of the offices in it, as they were instituted by Christ. 
Now, that all these things may be more clearly and familiarly 
displayed, and more deeply impressed upon our minds, it will 
be useful to examine what was the form of the ancient Church, 
m these particulars. It will place before our eyes an actual 

(z) Acts vi. 6; xiii. 3. (a) 2 Tim. i. 6 (b) 1 Tim. iv. 14. 



CHAK. IV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 273 

exemplification of the Divine institution. For though the 
bishops of those times published many canons, in which they 
seemed to express more than had been expressed in the Holy 
Scriptures, yet they were so cautious in framing their whole 
economy according to the sole standard of the word of God, that 
in this respect scarcely any thing can be detected among them 
inconsistent with that word. But though there might be some- 
thing to be regretted in their regulations, yet because they direct- 
ed their sincere and zealous efforts to preserve the institution of 
God, without deviating from it to any considerable extent, it will 
be highly useful in this place to give a brief sketch of what their 
practice was. As we have stated that there are three k inds of 
ministers recommended to us in the Scripture, so the ancient 
Church divided all the ministers it had into three orders. For 
from the order of presbyters, they chose some for pastors and 
teachers ; the others presided over the discipline and corrections. 
To the deacons was committed the care of the poor and the dis' 
tribution of the alms. Readers and Acolytes were not names of 
certain offices, but young men, to whom they also gave the name 
of clerg y^ whom they accustomed from their youth to certain 
exercises in the service of the Church, that they might better un- 
derstand to what they were destined, and might enter upon their 
office better prepared for it in due time ; as I shall soon show more 
at large. Therefore Jerome, after having mentioned five orders 
of the Church, enumerates bishops, presbyters, deacons, the 
faithful, or believers at large, and catechumeijs^pr persons who 
Tia9''nort-yet been haptized, but had applied for instruction in 
the Christian faith. Thus he assigns no particular place to the 
rest of the clergy and the monks. 

II. All those to whom the office of teaching was assigned, 
were denominated presbyters. To guard against dissension, the 
general' consequence of equality, the presbyters in each city 
clioseblie'" of their own number, whom they distinguished by 
the title of hishop. The bishop, however, was not so superior 
to the rest in honour and dignity, as to have any dominion over 
his colleagues ; but the functions performed by a consul in the 
senate, such as, to propose things for consideration, to collect 
the votes, to preside over the rest in the exercise of advice, 
admonition, and exhortation, to regulate all the proceedings by 
his authority, and to carry into execution whatever had been 
decreed by the general voice ; — such were the functions exer- 
cised by the bishop in the assembly of the presbyters. And 
tnat this arrangement was introduced by human agreement, on 
account of the necessity of the times, is acknowledged by the 
ancient writers themselves. Thus Jeromej on the Epistle to 
Titus, says, " A presbyter is the same as a bishop. And before 
dissensions in religion were produced by the instigation of the 
VOL. II. 35 



274 NSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

devil, and one said, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Cephas. 
the Churches were governed by a common council of presbyters 
Afterwards, in order to destroy the seeds of dissensions, the whoIT 
charge was committed to one. Therefore, as the presbyters 
know that according to the custom of the Church they are 
subject to the bishop who presides over them, £o let the 
I bishops Anow that their superiority to the presbyters is more from 
I custom than from the appointment of the Lord, and they ought 
Ftouirite together in the government of the Church." In another 
f place, he sliows the antiquity of this institution ; for he says, 
that at Alexandria, even from Mark the Evangelist to Heraclas 
and Dionysius, the presbyters always chose one of their body 
to preside over them, whom they called their bishop. Every 
city, therefore, had its college of presbyters, who were pastors 
and teachers. For they all executed the duties of teaching, 
exhorting, and correcting, among the people, as Paul enjoins 
bishops to do ; (c) and in order to leave successors behind them, 
they laboured in training young men, who had enlisted them- 
selves in the sacred warfare. To every city was assigned a cer- 
tain district, which received presbyters from it, and was reckoned 
J as a part of that Church. Eveiy assembly, as I have stated, for 
fl the sole purpose of preserving brdeFaud leace, was under the di- 
j* lection of one bishop, who, while he had the precedence of all 
'other's in dignity, was himself subject to the assembly of the 
brethren. If the territory placed under his episcopate was too 
extensive to admit of his discharging all the duties of a bishop 
in every part of it, presbyters were appointed in certain stations, 
to act as his deputies in things of minor importance. These 
were called chorepiscopi, or country bishops, because in the 
country they represented the bishop. 

III. But with respect to the office of which we are now 
treating, the bishops and presbyters vyere equally, required to 
employ themselves in the dispensation of the word and sacra- 
ments. For at Alexandria only, because Arius h^d disturbed 
the Church there, it was ordained that no presbyter should 
preach to the people ; as is asserted by Socrates^ in the jn nth 
book of. his Tripartite History, with which~Terome hesitates 
liot to express his dissatisfaction. It would certainly have 
been regarded as a prodigy, if any man had claimed the cha- 
••acier of a bishop, who had not shown himself really such in 
his conduct. Such was the strictness of those times, that all 
ministers were constrained to discharge the duties which the 
liord requires of them. I refer not to the custom of one age 
only ; for even in the time of Gregory, when the Church was 
almost extinct, or at least had considerably degenerated from 
lis ancient purity, it would not have been permitted for any 

(c) Titus i. 9. 



CHAP. IV.j CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 275 

bishop to abstain from preaching. Greg^orx somewhere says, 
•' A j)riest dies, if his sound be notTi'eard ; (d) for he provokes 
tTie wrath of the invisible Judge against him, if he go without 
the sound of preaching." And in another place: " When Paul 
declares that lie is '^ pure from the blood of all.' (e) by this decla- 
ration, we, who are called priests, are convicted, confounded, 
and declared to be guilty, who to all our own crimes add the 
deaths of others ; for we are chargeable with slaying all those 
whom we daily behold advancing to death, while we a e indif- 
ferent and silent." He calls himself and others silent, because 
they were less assiduous in their work than they ought to be. 
Since he spares not those who performed half of their duty, what 
is it probable he would have done, if any one had neglected it 
altogether ? It was therefore long maintained in the Church, 
that the principal office of a bishop was to feed the people with 
the word of God, or to edify the Church both in public and 
private with sound doctrine. 

IV. The establishment of one archbishop over all the bishops 
of each province, and the "appointment of ^^JtriarchS-.. at the 
Council of Nice, with rank and dignity superior to the arch- 
bishops, were regulations for the preservation of discipline. In 
this disqijisition, however, what was of the least frequent use 
cannot be wholly omitted. The principal reason, therefore, for 
the institution of these orders was, that if any thing should 
take place in any Church which could not be settled by a few 
persons, it might be referred to a provincial synod. If the 
magnitude or difficulty of the case required a further discussion, 
the patriarchs were called to unite with the synods; and from 
them there could be no appeal but to a general council. J^his 
c(Mistitution of government some called a hierarchy — ■ a name, in 
my opinion, improper, and certainly not used in the Scriptures. 
For it has been the design of the Holy Spirit, in every thing 
relating to the government of the Church, to guard against 
any dreams of principality or dominion. But if we look at the 
thing, without regarding the term, we shall find that the an- 
cient bishops had no intention of contriving a form of govern- 
ment' for the Church, different from that which God^ has pre- 
scribed in his word. 

V. Nor was the situation of deacons at that time at all dif- 
ferent from what it had been under the apostles. For they 
received the daily contributions of believers and the Annual 
revenues of the Church, to apply them to their proper uses, 
that is, to distribute part to the ministers, and part for the sup- 
port of the poor ; subject, however, to the authority ot the 
bishop, to whom they also rendered an account of their admi- 

(d) Exod. xxxviii. 35. (e) Acts xx. 26. 



276 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

nistration every year. For when the canons invariably repre- 
sent the bishop as the dispenser of all the benefactions of the 
Church, it is not to be understood as if he executed that chargt 
himself, but because it belonged to him to give directions tc 
the deacon, who were to be entirely supported from the funds 
of the Church, to whom the remainder was to be distributed, 
and in what proportion to each person ; and because he had 
the superintendence over the deacon, to examine whether he 
faithfully discharged his office. Thus the canons, ascribed to 
the apostles, contain the following injunction : " We ordain 
that the bishop do have the property of the Church in his 
own power. For if the souls of men, which are of superior 
value, have been intrusted to him, there is far greater proprie- 
ty in his taking charge of the pecuniary concerns; so that all 
things may be distributed to the poor by his authority through 
the presbyters and deacons, and that they may be administered 
with reverence, and all concern." And in the Council of An- 
tioch it was decreed, that those bishops should be censured 
who managed the pecuniary concerns of the Church without 
the concurrence of the presbyters and deacons. But it is 
unnecessary to argue this point any further, since it is evident 
from many epistles of Gregory, that even in his time, 
when the administration of the Church was in other respects 
become very corrupt, yet this custom was still retained, that 
the deacons were the stewards for the relief of the poor, 
under the authority of the bishop. It is probable that sub- 
deacons were at first attached to the deacons, to assist them 
in transacting the business of the poor ; but this distinction 
was soon lost. Archdeacons were first erected when the ex- 
tent of the property required a new and more accurate mode 
of administration ; though Jerome states that there were such 
offices even in his time. In their hands was placed the amount 
of the annual revenues, of the possessions, and of the house- 
hold furniture, and the management of the daily contributions. 
Whence Gregory denounces to the archdeacon of Thessalo- 
nica, that he would be held guilty, if any of the property of the 
Church should be lost by him, either through negligence or 
fraud. Their appointment to read the gospel, and to exhort 
the people to pray, and their admission to the administration of 
the cup in the sacred supper, were intended to dignify their 
office, that they might discharge it with the more piety, in 
consequence of being admonished by such crremonies, that 
they were not executing some profane stewardship, but that 
their function was spiritual and dedicated to God. 

VI. Hence it is easy to judge what use was made of the 
property of the Church, and in what manner it was dispensed. 
We often find it stated, both in the decrees of the councils, and 



CAAV. IV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 277 

by the ancient writers, that whatever the Church possessed, 
whether in lands or in money, was the patrimony of the poor. 
The bishops and deacons, therefore, are continually reminded 
that they are not managing their own treasures, but those des- 
tined to supply the necessity of the poor, which if they un- 
faithfully withhold or embezzle, they will be guilty of murder. 
Hence they are admonished to distribute this property to the 
parties entitled to it, with the greatest caution and reverence, 
as in the sight of God, and without respect of persons. Hence 
also the solemn protestations of Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augus- 
tine, and other bishops, assuring the people of their integrity. 
Now, since it is perfectly equitable, and sanctioned by the law 
of the Lord, that those who are employed in the service of 
the Church should be maintained at the public expense of the 
Church, — and even in that age some presbyters consecrated 
their patrimonies to God, and reduced themselves to voluntary 
poverty, — the distribution was such, that neither were the mi- 
nisters left without support, nor were the poor neglected. Yet, 
at the same time, care was taken that the ministers themselves 
who ought to set an example of frugality to others, should not 
have enough to be abused to the purposes of splendour or deli- 
cacy, but only what would suffice to supply their necessities. 
"For," says Jerome, ''those of the clergy who are able tu 
maintain themselves from their own patrimony, if they take 
what belongs to the poor, are guilty of sacrilege, and by such 
an abuse, they eat and drink judgment to themselves." 

VH. At first the administration was free and voluntary, thf 
bishops and deacons acting with spontaneous fidelity, and integ 
rity of conscience and innocence of life supplying the place of 
laws. Afterwards, when the cupidity or corrupt dispositions 
of some gave birtHi to evil examples, in order to correct these 
abuses, canons w*-re made, which divided the revenues of the 
Church into foU'? parts, assigning the first to the clergy, the 
second to the po<»r, the third to the reparation of Churches and 
other buildings^ the fourth to poor strangers. For, though 
"other can dns a*^ign this last part to the bishop, this forms no 
variation from "he division which I have mentioned. For the 
intention was that it should be appropriated to him, neither 
for his own exclusive consumption, nor for lavish or arbitrary 
distribution, l^ut to enable him to support the hospitality which 
Paul requires of persons in that office. (/) And so it is ex- 
plained by Gelasius and Gregory. For Gelasius adduces 
no other reason why the bishop should claim any thing for 
himself, than to enable him to communicate to captives and 
strangers. And Gregory is still more explicit. He says, "It 

(/) 1 Tim. iii. 2, 3 



278 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK V 

is the custom of the apostolic see, at the oidination of a bishop, 
to command him that all the revenue received by him be 
divided into four portions ; namely, one for the bishop and hib 
family, for the support of hospitality and entertainment ; the 
second for the clergy ; the third for the poor ; the fourth for the 
reparation of Churches." It was unlawful for the bishop, 
therefore, to take for his own use any thing more than was 
sufficient for moderate and frugal sustenance and clothing. If 
any one began to transgress the due limits, either in luxury, or 
in ostentation and pomp, he was immediately admonished by 
his colleagues ; and if he would not comply with the admoni- 
tion, he was deposed from his office. 

VIII. The portion which they applied to ornament thfc 
sacred edifices, at first was very small ; and even after the 
Church was become a little more wealthy, they did not exceed 
moderation in this respect : whatever money was so employed, 
still continued to be held in reserve for the poor, if any pressing 
necessity should occur. Thus, when famine prevailed in the 
province of Jerusalem, and there was no other way of relieving 
their wants, Cyril sold the vessels and vestments, and expend- 
ed the produce in purchasing sustenance for the poor. In like 
manner, when vast numbers of the Persians were almost pe- 
rishing with hunger, Acatius, bishop of Amida, after having 
convoked his clergy, and made that celebrated speech, " Our 
God has no need of dishes or cups, because he neither eats nor 
drinks," melted down the vessels, and converted them into 
Tnoiiey, to redeem the wretched, and buy food for them. Je- 
jorne also, while he inveighs against the excessive splendour 
of the temples, makes honourable mention of Exuf^erius, at that 
time bishop of Thoulouse, who administered the emblem of 
our Lord's body in a wicker basket, and the emblem of his 
blood in a glass, but suffered no poor person to endure hunger. 
The same that I have just said of Acatius, Ambrose relates of 
himself; for when he was censured by the Arians for having 
broken up the sacred vessels to pay the ransom of some cap- 
tives, he made the following most excellent defence : " He who 
sent forth the apostles without gold, gathered Churches to- 
gether likewise without gold. The Church has gold, not to 
keep, but to expend, and to furnisTi relief in necessities. What 
need is there to keep that which is of no service ? Do not we 
know how much gold and silver the Assyrians plundered from 
the temple of the Lord ? Is it not better that it should be 
melted down by the priest for the sustenance of the poor, if 
other resources are wanting, than that it should be carried away 
by a sacrilegious enemy ? Will not the Lord say. Wherefore 
hast thou suffered so many poor to die with hunger, and at the 
«ame time hadst gold, with Avhich thou mightest have supplied 



CHAP. IV.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION 279 

them with food ? Why have so many been carried away into 
captivity, and never been redeemed ? Why have so many 
been slain by the enemy ? It would have been^ better to pre- 
serve tlie vessels of living beings, than those of metals. To 
THese questions you could make no ansvVfer. For what would 
you say ? I was afraid that the temple of God would be desti- 
tute of ornament. God would reply, The sacraments require 
no gold, nor is gold any recommendation of that which is not 
purchased with gold. The ornament of the sacraments is the 
redemption of captives." In short, we see that it was very 
true which was observed by the same writer in another place, 
" that whatever the Church possessed at that time, was appro- 
priated to the relief of the necessitous," and " that all that a 

^M^.9P.,.b3cl;, belonged to the poor.". , 

IX. These, which we have enumerated, were the offices of 
the ancient Church. Others, which are mentioned by ecclesi- 
astical historians, were rather exercises and preparations, thar 
certain offices. For to form a seminary, which should provide 
the Church with future ministers, those holy men took under 
their charge, protection, and discipline, such youths as, with 
the consent and sanction of their parents, enlisted themselves 
in the spiritual warfare ; and so they educated them from an 
early age, that they might not enter on the discharge of their 
office ignorant and unprepared. All who were trained in this 
manner, were called by the general name of clergy. I could 
v/ish, indeed, that some other more appropriate nanie had been 
given them ; for this appellation originated in error, or at least 
in some improper views ; for ^PeJtei. calls the whole Church the 
clergy, that is, the inheritance of the Lord, (g) The institution 
itself, however, was pious and eminently beneficial ; that those 
who wished to consecrate themselves and their labours to the 
Church, should be educated under the care of the bishop ; that 
no one might minister in the Church but one who had received 
sufficient previous instruction, who from his early youth had 
imbibed sound doctrine, who from a strict discipline had ac- 
quired a certain habitual gravity, and more than common sanc- 
tity of life, who had been abstracted from secular occupations, 
and accustomed to spiritual cares and studies. Now, as young 
soldiers by counterfeit battles are trained to real and serious 
warfare, so the clergy were prepared by certain probationary 
exercises, before they were actually promoted to offices. At 
first they were charged with the care of opening and shutting 
the temples, and they were called ostiarii, or door-keepers. 
Afterwards they were called acoluthi, 6r followers, waiting upon 
the bishop in domestic services, and accompanying him on all 

(£) 1 Peter v 3. 



280 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IT 

occasions, at first in a way of honour, and afterwards to pre- 
vent all suspicion ; moreover, that by degrees they might 
become known to the people, and might acquire some consider- 
ation among them, and at the same time that they might learc 
to bear the presence of all, and have courage to speak before 
them, that after being made presbyters, when they should come 
to preach, they might not be confounded with shame, therefore 
they were appointed to read the Scriptures from the pulpit. In 
this manner they were promoted by degrees, that they might 
approve their diligence in the respective exercises, till they 
were made subdeacons. I only contend, that these were rather 
preparations for pupils, than functions reckoned among the real 
offices of the Church. 

X. We have said, that the first point in the election of 
mtnisters related to the qualifications of the persons to be 
chosen, and the second to the religious reverence with which 
the business ought to be conducted. In both these points, the 
mcient Church followed the direction of Paul and the examples 
of the apostles. For it was their custom to assemble for the 
election of pastors with the greatest reverence and solemn invo- 
cation of the name of God. They had likewise a form of ex- 
amination, in which they tried the life and doctrine of the 
"Candidates by that standard of Paul. Only they ran into the 
'^'rror of immoderate severity, from a wish to require in a bishop 
more than Pan I requires, and especially, in process of time, by 
enjoining celibacy. In other things their practice was in con- 
formity with the description of Paul, {h) In the third point 
which we have mentioned, namely, by whom minfsters ought 
to be chosen, they did not always observe the same order. In 
the primitive times there was no one admitted among the num- 
ber of the clergy, without the consent of all the people ; so 
that Cyprian makes a laboured defence of his having appointed 
one Aurelius a reader, without consulting the Church, because 
he departed in this instance from the general custom, though 
not without reason. He begins in the following manner : " In 
appointing the clergy, my very dear brethren, we are accus- 
tomed first to consult you, and to weigh the morals and merits 
of every one of them in the general assembly." But as there 
was not much danger in these inferior exercises, because they 
were admitted to a long probation, and not to a high office, the 
consent of the people ceased to be asked. Afterwards, in the 
t)ther offices also7 eSfcept the episcopate, the people generally 
left the judgment and choice to the bishop and presbyters, so 
that they determined who were capable and deserving ; except 
vhen new presbyters were appointed to the parishes, for then 

(A) 1 Tim. iii. 2—7. 



CHAP. V.J CHIUSTIAN RKLIGION. 281 

it was necessary to have the express consent of the body of the 
people at each place. Nor is it any wonder that the people 
were not very solicitous for the preservation of their right in 
this case. For no one was inade a. subdeacpn, who had not 
been tried for a considerable time as one of the clergy, under 
the severe discipline which was then jn'actised. After he haa 
been tried in that station, he was constituted a deacon ; in 
"which if he condTucted himself with fidelity, he obtained the, 
rank of a presbyt- r. Thus no one was j^romoted who had not 
really undergone an exaniinafToTribT^imhy years,- under the 
~e'y^es of the people. And there were many canons for the 
^punishment of their faults ; so that the Church could not be 
troubled with wicked presbyters or deacons, unless it neglected 
the remedies within its reach. The election of presbyters, 
however, always required the consent oTtHe inhabitants of the 
place ; Which is testified by the first canon, which is attributed 
to Anacletus. And all ordinations took place at stated times 
of the year;" that no" one might be introduced clandestinely, 
without the consent of the faithful, or be promoted with too 
much facility, without any attestation to his character. 

Xi. The fight' of voting in the election of bishops was re- 
tained by the people for a long time, that no one might be 
obtruded who was not acceptable to all. Xlifi-ComiqiLof Auti-. 
och therefore decreed, that no bishop should be appointed 
without the consent of the people, which Leo the First express- 
ly confirms. Hence the following injunctions: "Let him be' 
chosen who shall be called for by the clergy and people, or at 
least by the majority of them," Again: "Let him whio is to 
preside over all, be chosen by all." For he who is appointed 
without having been previously known and examined, must of 
necessity be intruded by force. Again : " Let him be elected 
who shall have been chosen by the clergylmd desired by the 
people ; and~lerTiTm T)'e consecrated by the bishoj^s of that pro -^ 
vince, with the authorityTiTthe metropolitan. So careful were 
"Ihe KoIy~"fatTiefs' tTiat this liberty of the people should not by 
any means be infringed, that when the general council, assem- 
bled at Constantinople, appointed Nectarius, they would not do 
it without the approbation of all the clergy and people ; as is 
evident from their epistle to the Council of Rome. Wherefore, 
when any bishop appointed his successor, the appointment was 
not confirmed but by the suffrages of all the people. Of such 
a circumstance wejiavfi not only an example, but the particu- 
lar form in Augustine's nomination of Eradius.' And Theodo- 
te"t7"wlien"fie states that]^eter was nominated by Athanasius as 
his successor, immediately adds, that this was cdiifi'i-med by 
the clergy, and ratified by the acclamations of the magistracv- 
the nobility, and ail tht people. 
""""vol. II. ^36 



282 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IT 

XII. 1 confess that there was the greatest iropriety in the 
decree of the Council of Laodicea, that the election should not 
be left to the populace. For it scarcely ever happens that so 
many heads concur in one opinion for the settlement of any 
business ; and almost every case verifies the observation, that 
the uncertaiii vulgar are divided by contrary inclinations. But 
to this danger was applied an excel1Sfft'Temgdy^^."T^ the 
first place, the clergy alone made their choice, and presented 
the person they had chosen to the magistracy, or to the senate 
and governors. They deliberated on the election, and if it ap- 
peared to them a proper one, confirmed it, or otherwise chose 
another person whom they preferred. Then the business was 
referred to the multitude, who, though they were ncff' bound to 
concur in these previous opinions, yet were less likely to be 
thrown into disorder. Or if the business commenced with the 
multitude, this method was adopted in order to discover who 
was the principal object of their wishes; and after hearing the 
wishes of the people, the clergy proceeded to the election. 
Thus the jijlergy were neither at liberty to elect whom they 
pleased, nor under a necessity of copi plying with the foolish 
'desires of the people. This order is stated by Leo in another 
place, when he says, " It is requisite to have the votes of the 
citizens, the testimonies of the people, the authority of the 
governors, and the election of the clergy." Again : " Let there 
be the testimony of the governors, the subscription of the 
clergy, the consent of the senate and people. Reason permits 
it not to be done in any other way." Nor is there any other 
meaiiing in that decree of the Council of Laodicea, than that 
the clergy and governors should not suflTer themselves to be 
carried away by the inconsiderate multitude, but by their pru- 
dence and gravity should check, on every necessary occasion, 
the folly and violence of popular desires. 

XIII. This mode of election was still practised in the time 
of^.Qregory, and it is probable that it continued long after. 
There are many of his epistles which furnish sufficient evi- 
dence of this fact. For in every case relating to the creation 
of a new bishop in any place, he was accustomed to wriie to 
the clergy, the senate, and the people ; and sometimes to the 
duke, according to the constitution of the government in the 
place to which he was writing. And if, on account of distur- 
bances or dissensions in any Church, he confides the superin- 
tendence of the election to some neighbouring bishop, yet he 
invariably requires a solemn decree confirmed by the subscrip- 
tions of all. Even when one Constantius was created bishop 
of Milan, and on account of the incursions of the barbarians, 
many of the Milanese had retired to Genoa, he thought the 
election would not be legitimate, unless they also were called 



CHAP. IV. I CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 283 

together; aiiu gave their united consent. And what is more, it 
was within the last five hundred years that Pope Nich )las made 
this decree respecting the election of the Roman pontiff; tha* 
the cardinals should take the lead, that in the next place they 
should unite with them the rest of the clergy, and lastly that 
the election should be confirmed by the consent of the people. 
And at the conclusion he recites that decree of Leo, which i 
have just quoted, and commands it to be observed in future. 
If the cabals of the wicked should go to such a length as to 
constrain the clergy to quit the city in order to make a proper 
election, still he ordains that some of the people should be 
present at the same time. The consent of the emperor, as far 
as I can discover, was required only in two Churches, at Rome 
and at Constantinople, because they were the two capitals of 
the empire. For when Ambrose was sent to Milan with au- 
thority from Valentinian to preside at the election of a new 
bishop, that was an extraordinary measure, in consequence of 
the grievous factions which raged among the citizens. At 
Rome the authority of the emperor had anciently so much in- 
fluence in the creation of abishoj), that Gregory speaks of himself 
as having been appointed to the government of the Church by 
the sole command of the emperor, notwithstanding he had beer, 
formally chosen by the people. But the custom was, that 
when any one had been chosen by the senate, clergy, and 
people, it was immediately reported to the emperor, that he might 
either ratify the election by his a])probation, or rescind it by his 
negative. Nor is there any thing repugnant to this custom in 
the decrees collected by Gratian ; which only say, that it is by 
no means to be suffered that a king should supersede all ca- 
nonical election by appointing a bishop at his own pleasure, and 
that the metropolitans ought not to consecrate any one who 
shall thus have been promoted by the violence of power. For 
it is one thing to spoil the Church of its right, by transferring 
the whole to the caprice of an individual, and another to give 
a king or an emperor the honour of confirming a legitimate 
election by his authority. 

XIV. It remains for us to state, by what ceremony the 
ministers of the ancient Church, after their election, were ini- 
tiated into their office. This the Latins have called ordination 
or consecration. The Greeks have called it p^siporovia, exteriWwW 
or elevation of hands, and sometimes p^eipo&srfia, imposition of 
hands ; though the former word properly signifies that kind of 
election in which the suffrages are declared by the lifting up of 
the hands. There is a decree of the Council of Nice, that the 
metropolitan should meet with all the bishops of the province, 
to ordain him who shall have been elected ; but that if any of 
them be prevented by the length of the journey, by sickness, oi 



284 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK (V. 

oy any other iiecessary cause; at least three should meet, and 
thoso who are absent should testify their consent by letters. 
And when this canon from disuse had grown obsolete, it was re 
newed in various councils. Now, the reason why all, or at least 
as many as had no sufficient excuse, were commanded to bt 
present, was that there might be a more solemn examination 
into the learning and morals of the person to be ordained ; for 
the business was not completed without examination. And it 
appears from the epistles of Cyprian, that in the beginning the 
bishops were not invited after the election, but used to be 
present at the election, and that for the purpose of acting as 
moderators, that nothing turbulent might take place among the 
multitude. For after having said that the people have the 
power either to choose the worthy for priests, or to reject the 
unworthy, he adds, *' Wherefore it is to be carefully held and 
observed as a Divine and apostolical tradition, (which is observed 
among us, and in almost all the provinces,) that for the due 
performance of ordinations, all the neighbouring bishops of the 
same province should meet with the people over whom a bishop 
is to be ordained, and that the bishop should be chosen in the 
presence of the people." But because such an assembly was 
sometimes very slowly collected, and there was danger that such 
a delay might be abused by some for the purposes of intrigue, it 
was deemed sufficient, if they assembled after the election was 
made, and upon due examination consecrated the person who 
had been chosen. 

XV. This was the universal practice, without any exception. 
By degrees a different custom was introduced, and the persons 
elected went to the metropolitan city to seek ordination. This 
change arose from ambition and a corruption of the ancient in- 
stitution, rather than from any good reason. And not long after, 
when the authority of the see of Rome had increased, another 
custom obtained, which was still worse ; almost all the bishops 
of Italy went to Rome to be consecrated. This may be seen 
by the epistles of Gregory. Only a few cities, which did not so 
(iasily yield, preserved their ancient right ; of which there is an 
example recorded by him in the case of Milan, Perhaps the 
metropolitan cities were the only ones that retained their privi- 
lege. For almost all the provincial bishops used to assemble 
in the metropolitan city to consecrate their archbishop. The 
ceremony was jm£Osition of hands. For I read of no other cer- 
emony practisedTexcept that in the public assembly the bishops 
had some dress to distinguish them from the rest of the presby- 
ters, Pi;eshyt.eJ:sa,ud deacons also were ordained solely by impo- 
sition of hands. But every bishop ordained his own presbyters,' 
In cohjuficfibh with the assembly of the other presbyters 
'of his diocese. Now, though they all united in the same act, 
yet because the bishop took the lead," and the ceremony was 



CHAP. V.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 285 

performea under his direction, therefore it was called his ordi- 
nation. Wherefore it is often remarked by the ancient writers, 
that a presbyter differs from a bishop in no other respect, than 
that he does not possess the power of ordination. 



CHAPTER V. 



THE ANCIENT FORM OF GOVERNMENT ENTIRELY SUBVERTED BT 
THE PAPAL TYRANNY. 

Now, it is proper to exhibit the system of ecclesiastical govern- 
ment at present maintained by the see of Rome, and all its 
dependencies, with a full view of that hierarchy which is per- 
petually in their mouths, and to compare it with the description 
we have given of the primitive and ancient Church. This com- 
parison will show what kind of a Church there is among those 
who fiercely arrogate this exclusive title, in order to oppress, or 
rather to overwhelm as. Now, it is best to begin with the voca- 
tion, that we may see who and what kind of men are called to 
the ministry, and how they are introduced to it. We shall then 
consider how faithfully they discharge their duty. We shall 
give the first place to the bishops ; and I wish it might be to 
their honour to hold the fii-st rank in this disquisition. But the 
subject itself will not permit me to touch on this argument ever 
so slightly, without involving their deepest disgrace. I shall 
remember, however, the nature of the work in which I am now 
engaged, and shall not suffer my discovuse, which ought to be 
confined to simple doctrine, to exceed its proper bounds. But 
let some one of those who have not lost all shame, answer me ; 
What kind of bishops are now generally chosen ? To examine 
into their learning, is too obsolete ; and if any regard be paid to it, 
they choose some lawyer, who understands pleading in a court, 
better than preaching in a Church. It is evident, that for a 
hundred years, scarcely one in a hundred that has been chosen, 
had any knowledge of the Holy Scripture. I say nothing of 
the preceding ages ; not that they were much better, but be- 
cause our business is only with the present Church. If we 
inquire into their morals, we shall find that there have been few 
or none who would not have been judged unworthy by the 
ancient canons He who has not been a drunkard, has been a 
fornicator ; and he who has been free from both these vices, has 
beeiieither a gambler or a hunter, or dissolute in some part of his 
life For the old canons exclude a man from the episcopal office 



286 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK 1V< 

for smaller vices than these. But the greatest absurdity of all is, 
that even boys, scarcely ten years of age, have by the permission 
^of the j)ope been made bishops. And to such lengths of impu- 
dence and stupidity have they proceeded, as not to be afraid of 
that extreme and monstrous enormity, which is altogether re- 
pugnant to the common sense of nature. Hence it appears 
how solemn and conscientious must have been their elections 
which were marked with such extreme negligence. 

II. All the right of the people to choose has been entire./ 

I ^cen 3way. Their suffrages, assent, subscriptions, and every 
/ thing of this kind, have disappeared. All the power is trans- 

■.Jgr^edto the CEyaQ^s. They confer the bishopric on whom 
they please, and then produce him before the people, but to be 
adored, not to be examined. Leo, on the contrary, exclaims 
that no reason permits this, aii^'pronounces it to be a violent 
imposition. When Cyprian declares it to be of Divine right, 
that an election should hot be made without the consent of the 
people, he shows that a different method is repugnant to the 
word of God. The decrees of various councils most severely 
prohibit it to be done in any other way, and if it be done, 
command it to be void. If these things be true, there is now 
no canonical election remaining in all the Papacy, either accord- 
ing to Divine or ecclesiastical right. Now, though there were 
no other evil, how will they be able to excuse themselves for 
having thus deprived the Church of her right ? But they say, 
the corruption of the times required, that as the people and 
magistrates, in the choice of bishops, were rather carried away 
by antipathies and partialities than governed by an honest and 
correct judgment, the decision of this business should be in- 
trusted to a few. Let it be admitted that this was an extreme 
remedy for a disease under desperate circumstances. Yet as 
the medicine has been found more injurious than the disease 
itself, why is there no remedy provided against this new mala- 
dy ? They reply. The canons themselves have been particularly 
directed what course they ought to pursue in an election. But 
do we doubt, that the people formerly understood themselves 
to be bound by the most sacred laws, when they saw the word 
of God proposed as their rule, whenever they assembled for the 
election of a bishop ? For that one declaration of God, in 
which he describes the true character of a bishop, ought to have 
more weight than millions of canons. Yet, corrupted by a 
most sinful disposition, they paid no regard to law or equity. 
So in the present day, though there are the best written laws, 
yet they remain buried in paper. At the same time, it has 
been the general practice, and, as if it were founded in reason, 
has obtained the general approbation, that drunkards, forni- 
•ators, and gamblers, have been promoted to this honour. 



ClllkP, v.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 287 

I do not say enough. Bishoprics are the rewards of adu terers 
and panders. For when they are given to hunters and fowlers, 
the business must be considered as well managed. To attempt 
any excuse of such flagitious proceedings is abominable. The 
people, I say, had a most excellent canon, in the direction of the 
word of God. that "a bishop must be blameless, apt to teach, no 
striker," &c. (i) Why, then, was the right of election transferred 
from the people to the canons ? They reply, Because the word 
of God was not attended to, amidst the tumults and factions of 
the people. And why should it not now be again transferred 
from them, who not only violate all laws, but, casting ofi" all 
shame, mingle and confound heaven and earth together, by 
their lust, avarice, and ambition ? 

III. But it is a false j)retence when they say, that the pre- 
sent practice was introduced as a remedy. We read that in the 
early times, cities were frequently thrown into confusion at the 
election of their bishops ; yet no one ever dared to think of., 
depriving the citizens of their right. For they had other ways, 
either of guarding against these evils, or of correcting them 
when they occurred. But I will state the real truth of the case. 
When the people began to be negligent about choosing, and, 
considering this care as less suitable to themselves, left it to 
the presbyters, the latter abused this occasion to usurp a tyran- 
nical power, which they afterwards confirmed to themselves by 
new canons. Their form of ordination is no other than a mere 
mockery. For the appearance of examination which they dis- 
play in it, is so frivolous and jejune, that it is even destitute 
of all plausibility. The power of nominating bishops, there- 
fore, which some princes have obtained by stipulation with 
the Roman pontiff, has caused no new injury to the Church, 
because the election has only been taken from the canons, who 
had seized, or rather stolen, it without any just claim. It is 
certainly a most disgraceful example, that courtiers are made 
bishops, and sent from the court to seize upon the Churches ; 
and it ought to be the concern of all pious princes to refrain 
from such an abuse. For it is an impious robbery of the 
Church, whenever a bishop is imposed upon any people, who 
have not desired, or at least freely approved of him. But the 
disorderly custom which has long prevailed in the Churches, 
has given occasion to princes to assume the presentation of 
bishops to themselves. For they would rather have this at 
their own disposal, than in the hands of those who had no more 
•ight to it, and by whom it was not less abused. 

IV. This is the goodly calling, in consequence of whch 
I'ishops boast of being successors of the apostles. The powei 

(i) 1 Tim. iii. 2—7. 



288 INSTITUTES OF THE [BOOK IV» 

of creating presbyters, they say, belongs exclusively to them 
But this is a gross corruption of the ancient institution ; for 
by their ordination they create, not presbyters to rule and feed 
the people, but priests to offer sacrifice. So when they conse- 
crate deacons, they have nothing to do with their true and 
proper office, but only ordain them to certain ceremonies about 
the chalice and patine. In the Council of Chalcedon, on the 
contrary, it was decreed, that there should be no absolute or- 
dinations, that is, without some place being at the same time 
assigned to the persons ordained, where they were to exercise 
their office. This decree was highly useful, for two reasons — 
first, that the Churches might not be burdened with an unne- 
cessary charge, and the money which ought to be distributed to 
the poor consumed upon idle men ; secondly, that the persons or- 
dained might consider themselves not as promoted to an honour, 
but as intrusted with an office to the discharge of which they 
were bound by a solemn engagement. But the Romish doctors, 
who think their belly ought to be all their care, even in matters 
of religion, first explain the requisite title to consist in an income 
sufficient for their support, whether arising from their own pa- 
trimony or from a benefice. Therefore, when they ordain a 
deacon or a presbyter, without giving themselves any concern 
where he is to officiate, they readily admit him, if he be only 
rich enough to maintain himself. But who can admit this, that 
the title which the decree of the council requires is a competent 
annual income ? And because the more recent canons con- 
demned the bishops to maintain those whom they had ordained 
without a sufficient title, in order to prevent their too great fa- 
cility in the admission of candidates, they have even contrived a 
way to evade this penalty. For the person ordained mentions 
any title whatever, and promises that he will be content with it. 
By this engagement he is debarred from an action for main- 
tenance. I say nothing of a thousand frauds practised in this 
business ; as when some falsely exhibit empty titles of bene- 
fices, from which they could not derive five pence a year ; 
others, under a secret stipulation, borrow benefices which they 
promise to return immediately, but which, in many instances, 
are never returned ; and other similar mysteries. 

V. But even though these grosser abuses were removed, is 
it not always absurd to ordain a presbyter without assigning 
him any station? For they ordain no one, but to offer sacri- 
fice. Now, the legitimate ordination of a presbyter consists in 
a call to the government of the Church, and that of a deacon 
to the collection of the alms. They adorn their procedurf , in- 
deed, with many pompous ceremonies, that its appearance may 
gain the veneration of the simple ; but with judicious persons, 
what can be gained by those appearances unaccompanied by 



CHAP, v.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 289 

any solidity or truth ? For they use ceremonies either derived 
from Judaism, or invented among themselves, from which it 
would be better to refrain. But as to any real examination, 
the consent of the people, and other necessary things, they are 
not mentioned. The shadow they retain of these things, 1 
consider not worthy of notice. By shadow, I mean those 
ridiculous gesticulations, used as a dull and foolish imitation of 
antiquity. The bishops have their vicars, to inquire before 
an ordination, into the learning of the candidates. But in 
what manner ? They interrogate them, whether they can 
read their masses ; whether they know how to decline some 
common noun that may occur in reading, or to conjugate a 
verb, or to tell the meaning of a word ; for it is net necessary 
for them to know how to give the sense of a verse. And yet 
none are rejected from the priesthood, who are deficient even 
in these puerile elements, provided they bring some present or 
recommendation to favour. In the same spirit it is, that when 
the persons to be ordained present themselves at the altar, 
some one inquires three times, in a language not understood, 
whether they are worthy of that honour. One (who never saw 
them before, but, that no part of the process might be wanting, 
acts his part in the farce) answers, They are worthy. What 
accusation is there against these venerable fathers, but that by 
sporting with such manifest sacrileges they are guilty of un- 
blushing mockery of God and men ? But because they have 
been long in possession of it, they suppose it is now become 
right. For whoever ventures to open his mouth against these 
glaring and atrocious enormities, they hurry him away to ex- 
ecution, as if he had committed a capital crime. Would they 
do this if they believed that there was any God ? 

VI. Now, how much better do they conduct themselves in 
the collation of benefices ? — a thing formerly connected with 
ordination, but now entirely separated from it. The ways in 
which this business is managed, are various. For the bishops 
are not the only persons who confer benefices, and in those the 
collation of which is ascribed to them, they do not always 
possess the full power, but while they retain the name of the 
collation for the sake of honour, the presentation belongs to 
others. Besides these, there are nominations from the colleges, 
resignations either absolute or made for the sake of exchange, 
commendatory rescripts, preventions, and the like. But they 
all conduct themselves in such a manner, that no one can 
reproach another for any thing. I maintain that scarcely one 
benefice in a hundred, in all the Papacy, is at present conferred 
without simony, according to the definition which the ancients 
gave of that crime. I do not say that they all purchase with 
ready money ; but show me one in twenty who obtains a 
VOL. II. 37 



2^0 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

benefice without any indirect recommendation. Some are pro- 
moted by relationship, others by alliance, others by the influence 
of parents, others gain favour by their services. In short, the 
end for which sacerdotal offices are conferred, is not to provide 
for the Churches, but for the persons to whom they are given. 
And therefore they call them benefices^ a name by which they 
sufficiently declare that they view tHem in no other light than 
as donatives of princes, by which they either conciliate the 
favour of their soldiers, or reward their services. I forbear 

I to remark that these rewards are conferred upon barbers, cooks, 
muleteer?, and other dregs of the people. And, in the present 
day, scarc(!ly any litigations make more noise in the courts of 
justice than those respecting benefices ; so that they may be 
considered as a mere prey thrown out for dogs to hunt after. _ 
Is it tolerable even to'^ear the name of pastors ^iv en to men 
who have forced themselves into the possession of a Church, as 
into an enemy's farm ; who have obtained it by a legal process ; 
who have purchased it with money ; who have gained it 
by dishonourable services ; who, while infants just beginning 
to lisp, succeeded to it as an inheritance transmitted by their 
uncles and cousins, and sometimes even by fathers to their il- 
legitimate children ? 

VII. Would the licentiousness of the people, however corrupt 
and lawless, ever have proceeded to such a length ? But it is 
still more monstrous that one man — I say nothing of his qualifi- 
cations, only a man not capable of governing himself — should 
preside over the government of five or six Churches. We 
may now see, in the courts of princes, young men who hold 
one archbishopric, two bishoprics, and three abbeys. It is 
a comm ton tiling for canons to be loaded with five, six^ or 
seven benefices^ of which they take not the least care, except 
"irrTeceiving the reyenues, I will not object that this is every 
where condeitined by the word of God, which has long ceased 
to have the least weight with them. I will not object thai" 
various councils have made many very severe decrees against 
such disorder ; for these also, whenever they please, they fear- 
lessly treat with contempt. But I maintain, that both these 
things are execrable enormities, iiifterly repugnant to God, to 
nature, and to the government of the Church — that one robber 
should engross several Churches at once, and that the name 
of pastor should be given to one who could not be present 
with his flock, even if he would ; and yet, such is their impu- 
dence, they cover these abominable impurities with the name 
of the Church, in order to exempt them from all censure. And, 
moreover, that inviolable succession, to the merit of which they 
ooast tna: the Church owes its perpetual preservation, is in- 
cluded in these iniquities. 



clIAt. V.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 291 

VIII. Now, let us see how faithftilly they exercise their office, 
which is the second mark by which we are to judge of a legiti- 
mate pastor. Of the priests whom they create, some are monks. 
others are called seculars. The former of these classes was 
unknown to the ancient Church, and to hold such a place in 
the Church was so incompatible with the monastic profession, 
that anciently, when any one was chosen from a monastery to be 
one of the clergy, he ceased to be a monk. And even Gregory, 
in whose time there was much corruption, yet suffered not this 
confusion to take place. For he enjoined, that they who be- 
came abbots should be divested of their clerical character ; for 
that no one could be a monk and a clergyman at the same time, 
because the one would be an impediment to the other. Now, 
if I inquire how that man can duly discharge his office, whom 
the canons declare to be unfit for it, what answer will they 
make ? I suppose they will cite those abortive decrees of Inno- 

_cent,,,ajld..B.Qiliface, by which monks are' admitted to the honour 
and authority of the priesthood, so that they may still remain . 
in their monasteries. But what reason is there, that any illiterate | 

_a§S^^, soon as he. has once occupied the see of Rome, should I 
by. one diminutive word overturn all, the usages of antiquity?; 
But of this we shall say more hereafter. Suffice it at present ' 
to remark, that during the purer times of the Church, it was 
deemed a great absurdity for a monk to hold the office of a 
priest. For Jerome denies that he performed the office of a 
priest while he lived among the monks ; but represents himself 
as one of the people who ought to be governed by the priests. 
But if we grant them this point, how do they execute their 
office? There are some of the mendicants, and a few of the 
others, who preach. All the rest of the monks either chant or 
mutter oveT masses in their cloisters, as if it were the design 
of Jesus Christ that presbyters should be appointed for this 
purpose, or as if the nature of their office admitted of it. While 
the Scripture clearly testifies that it is the duty of a presbyter 
to govern his own Church, (^) is it not an impious profanation 
to transfer to another object, or rather to make a total change 
in, God's sacred institution ? For when they are ordained monks, 
they are expressly forbidden to do things which the Lord enjoins 
upon all ]>resbyters. This direction is given to them : Let a 
monk be content in his cloister, and not presume to administer 
the sacraments, or to execute any other branch of public duty. 
Lei them deny, if they can, that it is a glaring mockery of Godj 
to create a presbyter in order that he may refrain from dischar- 
ging his true and genuine office, and to give a naan the name; 
who cau'iot possess the thing. 

(Ac) Acts zx. 28. 



292 INSTITUTES or THE [bOOK IV 

IX. I proceed to the seculars ; of whom scime are called bene- 
Jidaries, that is, they have benefices by which they are main- 
tained ; others hire themselves to labour by the day, in saying 
mass or singing, and live on the wages which they gain from 
these employments. Benefices are either attended with cure of 
souls, as bishoprics and parishes ; or they are the stipends of 
delicate men, who gain a livelihood by chanting, as prebends, 
canonueS; dignities, chaplainships, and the like. But in the 
confusion which has been introduced, abbeys and priories are 
conferred not only on secular priests, but also on boys, by 
privilege, that is, by common and ordinary custom. As to the 
mercenaries, who seek their daily sustenance, how could they 
act otherwise than they do, that is, to offer themselves to hire 
in a mean and shameful manner ; especially among such a vast 
multitude as now swarms in the world ? Therefore, when 
they are ashamed of open begging, or think they should gain 
but little by that practice, they run about like hungry dogs, 
and by their importunity, as by barking, extort from reluctant 
hands some morsels to put into their mouths. Here if I should 
endeavour to describe what a great disgrace it is to the Church, 
that the office and dignity of the presbytery has been so de- 
graded, there would be no end. My readers, therefore, have 
no reason to expect from me a long discourse, corresponding to 
such a flagitious enormity. I only assert, in few words, thai 
if it be the duty of a presbyter, as the word of God prescribes, 
and the ancient canons require, to feed the Church and adminis- 
ter the spiritual kingdom of Christ, (l) all those priests who 
have no work or wages, except in making merchandise of 
/masses, hot only fall of executing their office, but have no 
/le'git'imate office to execute. For there is no place assigned to 
'^ them to teach; they Jiavg no people to govern, In short, 
nothing remains to them buFthe altar upon whicH to off"er up 
Christ in sacrifice ; and this is not sacrificing to God, but to 
demons, as we shall see in another place. 

X. Here I touch not on the external vices, but only on the 
intestine evil which is deeply rooted in their institution, and 
cannot be separated from it. I shall add a remark, which will 
sound harshly in their ears, but because it is true, it must be 
expressed — that canons, deans, chaplains, provosts, and all who 
are supported by sinecures, are to be considered in the same 
light. For what service can they perform for the Church r 
They have discarded the preaching of the word, the superin- 
tendence of discipline, and the administration of the sacraments, 
as employments attended with too much labour and trouble 
What have they remaining, then, to boast of as true presbyters. 

(0 1 Cor. iv. I. 



CHAP, v.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 29t^ 

They have chanting and the pomp of ceremonies. But what 
is all this to the purpose ? If they plead custom, usage, pre- 
scription of long continuance, I will confront them with the 
decision of Christ, where he has given us a descri|:)tion of true 
presbyters, and what qualifications ought to be possessed by 
those who wish to be considered as such. If they cannot bear 
so hard a law as to submit themselves to the rule of Christ, 
let them at least allow this cause to be decided by the author- 
ity of the primitive Church. But their condition will not be 
at all better, if we judge of their state by the ancient canons. 
Those who have degenerated into canons, ought to be presby- 
ters, as they were in former times, to govern the Church in 
common with the bishop, and to be his colleagues in the pas- 
toral office. These chapter dignities, as they call them, have 
nothing to do with the government of the Church ; much less 
have the chaplainships, and the other dregs of similar offices. 
In what estimation, then, shall we hold them all ? It is certain 
that the word of Christ and the practice of the ancient Church 
agree in excluding them from the honour of the presbytery. 
They contend, however, that they are presbyters; but the mask 
must be torn off. Then we shall find, that their whole pro- 
fession is most foreign and remote from the office of presbyters, 
which is described to us by the apostles, and which was re- 
quired in the primitive Church. AH such orders, therefore, by 
whatever titles they may be distinguished, since they are of 
modern invention, or at least are not supported by the institu- 
tion of God, or the ancient usage of the Church, ought to have 
no place in a description of the spiritual government, which 
the Church has received, consecrated by the mouth of the Lord 
himself. Or, if they wish me to use plainer language, since 
chaplains, canons, deans, provosts, and other idlers of this 
description, do not even with their little fingers touch a parti- 
cle of tliat duty which is necessarily required in presbyters, it 
is not to be endured that they should falsely usurp the honour, 
and thus violate the sacred institution of Jesus Christ. 

XI. There remain the bishops and the rectors of parishes, 
who would afford me great pleasure if they exerted themselves 
to support their office. For we would readily admit to them, 
that they have i pious and honourable office, provided they 
discharged it. But when they wish to be considered as pastors, 
notwithstanding they desert the churches committed to them, 
and transfer the care of them to others, they act just as if the 
office of a pastor consisted in doing nothing. If a usurer, who 
never stirred his foot out of the city, should profess himself a 
ploughman or vinedresser, — if a soldier, who had spent all his 
time in the camp and in the field of battle, and had never seen 
a court of jrs' ice or books, should offer himself as a lawyer, — 



294 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK I\ 

who could endure such gross absurdities ? But these men act 
in a manner still more absurd, who wish to be accounted and 
called legitimate pastors of the Church, and j^et are not wiUing 
to be so in reality. For how few of them are there, who 
execute the government of their Churches even in appearance ! 
Many of them all their lifetime devour the revenues of Churches, 
which they never approach even to look at them. Others 
either go themselves, or send an agent once every year, that 
nothing may be lost by farming them out. When this abuse 
first intruded itself, they who wished to enjoy this kind of va- 
cation from duty, exempted themselves by special privileges. 
Now, it is a rare case for any one to reside in his own Church ; 
for they consider their Churches as no other than farms, over 
which they place their vicars, as bailiffs or stewards. But it is 
repugnant to common sense, that a man should be pastor of a 
flock, who never saw one of the sheep. 

XII. It appears that some seeds of this evil had sprung up 
in the time of^Gregory, and that the rectors of Churches began 
to be negligent in preaching and teaching ; for he heavily 
complains of Tt in the following passages: "The world is full 
of priests ; but yet there are few labourers found in the har- 
vest ; because we undertake the sacerdotal office, but perform 
not the work of the office." Again: " Because they have no 
bowels of charity, they wish to be considered as lords ; they 
do not acknowledge themselves to be fathers. They change 
the place of humility into an aggrandizement of dominion." 
Again : " But, O ye pastors, what are we doing, who receive 
the wages and are not labourers ? We have fallen into extra- 
neous employments ; we undertake one thing, and perform 
another. We relinquish the office of preaching ; and it is our 
misfortune, I conceive, that we are called bishops, since we 
hold a title of honour, but not of virtue." Since he uses such 
severity of language against those who were only chargeable 
with a want of sufficient assiduity, or diligence, in their office, 
what would he have said, if he had seen scarcely any, or very 
few of the bishops, and among the rest hardly one in a hun- 
dred, ascend a pulpit once in their lives ? For things are 
come to such a pitch of frenzy, that it is generally esteemed 
beneath the dignity of a bishop to deliver a sermon to a con- 
gregation. In the time of Bernard there had been some de- 
clension ; but we see how sharply he reproves and inveighs 
against the whole body of the clergy, who, it is probable, 
however, were far less corrupt in that age than they are in the 
present. 

XIII. No w, if any one will closely observe and strictly examine 
this whole form of ecclesiastical government, which exists a/ 
Ibo present day under the Papacy, he will find it a nest of 



CHAP. V.) CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 295 

the most lawless and ferocious banditti in the world Every 
thing in it is clearly so dissimilar and repugnan. .o the 
institution, of Christ, so degenerated from the ancient regu- 
lations and usages cf tne Church, so at variance with na- 
ture and reason, that no greater injury can be done to Christ, 
than by pleading his name in defence of such a disorderly 
government. We (they say) are the pillars of the Church, the 
prelates of religion, the vicars of Christ, the heads of the faith- 
ful, because we have succeeded to the power and authority of 
the apostles. They are perpetually vaunting of these fooleries, 
as if they were talking to blocks of wood ; but whenever they 
repeat these boasts, I will ask them in return, what they have in 
common with the apostles. For the question is not respect- 
ing any hereditary honour, which may be given to men while 
they are asleep, but of the office of preaching, which they so 
carefully avoid. So, when we assert that their kingdom is the 
tyranny of Antichrist, they immediately reply, that it is that 
venerable hierarchy, which has been so often commended by 
great and holy men. As though the holy fathers, when they 
praised the ecclesiastical hierarchy, or spiritual government, as 
it had been delivered to them by the hands of the apostles, 
ever dreamed of this chaos of deformity and desolation, where 
the bishops for the most part are illiterate asses, unacquainted 
with the first and plainest rudiments of the faith, or, in some 
instances, are children just out of leading-strings ; and if any be 
more learned, — which, however, is a rare case, — they consider a 
bishopric to be nothing but a title of splendour and magnifi- 
cence ; where the rectors of Churches think no more of feeding 
the flock, than a shoemaker does of ploughing ; where all * 
things are confounded with a dispersion worse than that of 
Babel, so that there can no longer be seen any clear vestige of 
the administration practised in the time of the fathers. 

XIV. What if we proceed to inquire into their manners ? 
" Where is that light of the world," which Christ requires ?• 
where that '• salt of the earth ? " (m) where that sanctity, which 
might serve as a perpetual example to others ? There is no 
class of men in the present day more infamous for profusion, 
delicacy, luxury, and profligacy of every kind ; no class of 
men contains more apt or expert masters of every species of 
imposture, fraud, treachery, and perfidy ; nowhere can be found 
equal cunning or audacity in the commission of crime. I say 
nothing of their pride, haughtiness, rapacity, and cruelty ; I 
say nothing of the abandoned licentiousness of every part of 
their lives; — enormities which the world is so weaned with 
bearing, that there is no room for the least apprehension lest J 
should be charged with excessive exaggeiation. One thing I 

(to) Matt. V. 13, 14. 



29b INSTITUTKS OF THE [bOOK IV. 

assert, which it is not in their power to deny — that there is 
scarcely one of the bishops, and not one in a hundred of the 
parochial clergy, who, if sentence were to be passed upon his 
conduct according to the ancient canons, would not be excom- 
municated, or, at the very least, deposed from his office. That 
ancient discipline, which required a more accurate investiga- 
tion to be made into the conduct of the clergy, has so long 
been obsolete, that I may be considered as making an incredi- 
ble assertion ; but such is the fact. Now, let all, who fight 
under the standards and auspices of the Roman see, go and 
boast of their sacerdotal order. It is evident that the order 
which they have is not derived from Christ, from his apostles, 
from the fathers, or from the ancient Church. 

XV. Now, let the deacons come forward, with that most 
sacred distribution which they have of the property of the 
Church. They do not at present, however, create their deacons 
for any such purpose ; for they enjoin them nothing but to 
serve at the altar, to say or chant the gospel, and do I know 
not what trifles. Nothing of the alms, nothing of the care of the 
poor, nothing of the whole function which they executed in 
primitive times. I speak of the institution itself. For if we 
advert to the fact, it is now become no office at all, but only a 
step towards the priesthood. In one circumstance, those who 
act the part of a deacon at the mass, exhibit a useless and frivo- 
lous resemblance of antiquity, in receiving the offerings before 
the consecration. Now, it was the ancient custom, that before 
the communion of the supper, the faithful kissed each other, 
and then offered their alms at the altar ; thus they expressed 
their charity, first by a sign, and then by active beneficence. 
The deacon, who was steward for the poor, received what was 
given, in order to distribute it. Of the alms given at present, 
no more reaches the poor than if they were thrown into the sea. 
This false appearance of deaconship, therefore, is a mockery of 
the Church. It contains nothing resembling the apostolic in- 
stitution, or the ancient usage. Even the distribution of the 
property they have turned into another channel ; and have 
ordered it in such a way, that it is impossible to imagine any 
thing more disorderly. For as robbers, after having murdered 
some ill-fated travellers, divide the plunder among themselves, 
so these men, after having extinguished the light of God's 
word, and, as it were, cut the throat of the Church, have con- 
cluded that whatever had been dedicated to sacred uses, was 
abandoned to plunder and rapine. They have therefore made a 
division of it, and every one has seized as large a share as he 
could. 

XVI. Here, all the ancient usages which we have described, 
have not only been disturbed, but antirely expunged and abo- 



CHAP, v.'] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 2;^7 

lished The principal part of this pUinder was seized by the bish- 
ops and the presbyters of cities, who, being enriched by it, were 
converted into canons. Tiiat the partition was made in confu- 
sion is evident from the contentions which prevail among them, 
even to this day, about their respective limits. But, however 
it may be managed, they have taken care that not a penny of 
all the property of the Church should reach the poor, who 
were at least entitled to half of it. For the canons expressly 
allot them one fourth part, and assign another fourth part to the 
bishops to be laid out in hospitality and other offices of charity. 
I say nothing of what the clergy ought to do with their portion, 
and to what use they ought to apply it. The residue, which is 
appropriated to the reparation of temples, edifices, and other ex- 
penses, it has been sufficiently shown, ought to be at the service 
of the poor in time of necessity. If they had a single spark of the 
fear of God in their hearts, could they bear this reflection of 
conscience, that every thing they eat, and drink, and wear, is 
the fruit of robbery, and even of sacrilege ? But though they are 
little affected with the judgment of God, they should at least 
consider that those, whom they wish to persuade into a belief 
of their possession of such an excellent and well regulated 
system in their Church as they are accustomed to boast, are 
men endued with sense and reason. Let them answer me, in a 
word, whether deaconship be a license for theft and robbery ? 
If they deny this, they will also be obliged to confess, that they 
have no such office left ; seeing that among them the whole 
administration of- the revenues of the Church has been openly 
perverted into a system of sacrilegious depredation. 

XVII. But here they advance a most plausible plea. They 
allege that the dignity of the Church is becomingly sustained 
by this magnificence. And such is the impudence of some of 
their faction, that they dare to boast in express terms, that this 
princely state of the priesthood constitutes the only fulfilment 
of those predictions in which the ancient prophets describe the 
splendour of the kingdom of Christ. It is not in vain, they 
say, that God has made the following promises to his Church : 
" The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents ; 
the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings 
shall fall down Sefore him." (ti) " Awake, awake ; put on thy 
strength, O Zion ; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusa- 
lem." (o) " All they from Sheba shall come ; they shall bring 
gold and incense ; and they shall show forth the praises of the 
Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto 
thee." (j)) If I should dwell long on a refutation of this pre- 
sumption, I fear I should expose myself to the charge of folly 

(n PBaltn Ixxii. 10, 11. (o) Isaiah iii. 1. (p) Isaiah be. 6, 7. 

•^OL. II. 38 



298 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK Xf 

Therefore I am not inclined to spend my wcrJs in vain. But 
I ask, if any Jew were to abuse these passages in the same 
manner, what reply would they make to him ? There is no 
doubt but they would reprove his stupidity, in transferring to 
the flesh and the world things which are spiritually spoken of 
the spiritual kingdom of the Messiah. For we know that, 
under the image of earthly things, the prophets have repre- 
sented to us the heavenly glory of God, which ought to shine in 
the Church. For of those external blessings which their words 
express, the Church never had less abundance than in the days of 
the apostles ; and yet it is acknowledged by all that the kingdom 
of Christ, then flourished in its greatest vigour. What, then, it 
mhU be asked, is the meaning of these passages ? I reply, that 
every thing precious, high, and excellent, ought to be in subjec- 
tion to the Lord. In regard to the express declaration, that kings 
shall submit their sceptres to Christ, cast their crowns at his feet, 
and consecrate their wealth to the Church, when (they will say) 
was it more truly and fully exemplified, than when Theodoslus, 
casting off" the purple robes, and relinquishing the ensigns of 
imperial majesty, submitted himself, like one of the common 
people, to do solemn penance before God and the Church ? than 
when he and other such pious princes devoted their cares and 
exertions to the preservation of pure doctrine in the Church, 
and to the support and protection of sound teachers? But 
how far the priests of that age were from rioting in superfluous 
riches, a single expression of the Council of Aquileia, at which 
Ambrose presided, sufiiciently declares. " Poverty is honour- 
able in the priests of the Lord." It is true that the bishops at 
that time had some wealth, which they might have employed 
to display the honour of the Church, if they had considered 
them as the Church's real ornaments. But knowing that there 
was nothing more inconsistent with the office of pastors, than 
to display and to pride themselves on the luxury of their tables, 
the splendour of their apparel, a large retinue, and magnificent 
palaces, they followed and maintained the humility and mo- 
desty, and even the poverty which Christ has consecrated in 
all his ministers. 

XVIII. But not to dwell too long on this point, let us again 
collect into a brief summary, how very much the present dis- 
pensation, or rather dissipation, of the property of the Church, 
differs from that true office of deacons, which the word of God 
commends to us, and which the ancient Church observed. 
That portion which is employed in the ornaments of temples, T 
assert, is grossly misapplied, if it be not regulated by that 
moderation which the nature of sacred things requires, and 
which the apostles and holy fatheis have prescribed both by 
orejpept and by examples. But what is there seen like this, in 



CHAP, v.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 299 

the temples at the present day ? Whate\ er is conforniai)le, 1 
do not say to that primitive frugality, but to any honou able 
mediocrity, is rejected. Nothing pleases, but what savours of 
the profusion and corruption of the present times. At the same 
time they are so far from feeling any just concern for the living 
temples, that they would suffer thousands of the poor to perish 
with hunger, rather than convert the smallest chalice or silver 
pitcher into money, to relieve their wants. And, not of myself 
to pronounce any thing more severe, I would only request my 
pious readers to indulge this one reflection. If it could happen 
that Exuperius, — that bishop of Toulouse whom we have 
mentioned, — if Acacius, if Ambrose, or any other such, — should 
be raised from the dead, what would they say ? In such 
extreme necessity of the poor, they surely would not approve 
of the riches of the Church being applied to another use, and 
that an unnecessary one. I forbear to remark, that tnese pur- 
poses for which they are employed, even if there were no poor, 
are in many respects injurious, but of no utility whatever. But 
I will not appeal to the authority of men. The prc»perty has 
been dedicated to Christ, and therefore ought to be dispensed 
according to his will. It will be useless for them to allege, that 
this portion has been employed for Christ, which they have 
squandered in a manner inconsistent with his command. To 
confess the truth, however, there is not much of the ordinary 
revenue of the Church lost in these expenses. For there are no 
bishoprics so opulent, no abbeys so rich, in short, no benefices 
so numerous or ample, as to satisfy the voraciousness of the 
priests. Wishing to spare themselves, therefore, they induce 
the people, from superstitious motives, to take what ought to be 
bestowed upon the poor, and apply it to the building of 
temples, the erection of statues, the purchase of chalices and 
shrines for relics, and the provision of costly vestments. This 
is the gulf which swallows up all the daily alms. 

XIX. Of the revenue which they derive from lands and 
possessions, what can I say more than I have already said, 
and which is evident to the observation of all men ? We see 
with what fidelity the principal portion is disposed of by those 
who are called bishops and abbots. What folly is it to seek 
here for any ecclesiastical order ! Was it reeisonable that they, 
whose life ought to be an eminent example of frugality, mo- 
desty, temperance, and humility, should emulate the pomp of 
princes, in the number of their attendants, the splendour of 
their palaces, the elegance of their apparel, and -.he luxury of 
their tables ? And how very inconsistent it vas tvith the office 
of those whom the eternal and inviolable decree of Godfoibids 
to be greedy of filthy lucre, (q) and commands to be content 

(q) Titus i. 7. 



300 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

with simple fare, not only to lay their hands upon towns and 
castles, but to seize on the largest provinces, and even to as- 
sume the reins of empire ! If they despise {he word of God, 
what reply will they make to those ancient decrees of councils, 
by which it is ordained that a bishop shall have a small house 
near the Church, a frugal table, and humble furniture ? What 
will they say to that sentence of the Council of Aquileia, which 
declares poverty to be honourable in the priests of the Lord ? 
For the direction given by Jerome to Nepotian, that poor persons 
and strangers, and Christ among them, should be familiar guests 
at his table, they will perhaps reject as too austere. But they 
will be ashamed to contradict what he immediately subjoins — 
" that it is the glory of a bishop to provide for the poor, and 
the disgrace of all priests to seek to enrich themselves." Yet 
they cannot receive this, but they must all condemn themselves 
to ignominy. But it is not necessary to pursue them with any 
further severity at present, as it was only my intention to show, 
that the legitimate office of deacon has long been entirely abo- 
lished among them, to prevent their continuing to pride them- 
selves on this title, for the purpose of recommending their 
Jhurch. And this design, I think, I have fully accomplished. 



CHAPTER YI. 

THE PRIMACY OF THE ROMAN SEE. 

Hitherto we have treated of those ecclesiastical orders which 
existed in the government of the ancient Church, but which 
afterwards, in process of time, being corrupted and gradually 
more and more perverted, now in the Papal Church merely 
retain their names, while in reality they are nothing but masks. 
And this we have done, that by the comparison the pious 
reader might judge what sort of a Church the Romanists have, 
for the sake of which they represent us as guilty of schism, 
because we have separated from it. But the head and summit 
of the whole establishment, that is, the primacy of the Roman 
see, by which they endeavour to prove that the Catholic Church 
is exclusively theirs, we have not yet touched on ; because it 
originated neither in the institution of Christ nor in the usage 
of the ancient Church, as did the other offices, which we have 
shown were handed down from antiquity, but since, through the 
corruption of the times, have degenerated, and even assumed 
altogether a new form. And yet they endeavour to persuade 



CJIAP. VI. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 301 

the world, that the principal and almost only bond of tne unity 
of the Church is adherence to the see of Rome, and perseve- 
rance in obedience to it. This is the foundation on which they 
principally rest, when they wish to deny us all claim to the 
Church, ana to arrogate it to themselves ; that they retain the 
head, on which the unity of the Church depends, and without 
which it must be torn asunder and crumble to pieces. For 
their notion is, that the Church is like a mutilated and headless 
body, unless it be subject to the Roman see as its head. There- 
fore, when they dispute respecting their hierarchy, they always 
commence with this axiom, that the Roman pontiff, as the vicar 
of Christ, who is Head of the Church, presides over the universal 
Church in his stead, and that the Church cannot be well con- 
stituted, unless that see holds the primacy above all others. 
Wherefore it is necessary to discuss this subject also, that nothing 
belonging to the good government of the Church maybe omitted. 
II. Let the question, therefore, be stated thus : Whether it be 
necessary to the true system of what they call the hierarchy or 
government of the Church, that one see should have the preemi- 
nence above all the rest in dignity and power, so as to be the 
head of the whole body. Now, we subject the Church to very 
unreasonable laws, if we impose this necessity upon it without 
the word of God. Therefore, if our adversaries wish to gain 
their cause, it is necessary for them, in the first place, to show 
that this economy was instituted by Christ. For this purpose 
they allege the high-priesthood ordained in the law, and the 
supreme jurisdiction of th^ high-priest which God appointed 
at Jerusalem. But it is easy to give an answer to this, or, 
indeed, various answers, if they would not be satisfied with 
one. In the first place, there is no reason for extending to the 
whole world what was useful in a single nation ; on the contrary, 
the case of a single nation and that of the whole world are 
widely different. Because the Jews were surrounded on all 
sides with idolaters, God, in order to prevent their being dis- 
tracted by a variety of religions, fixed the seat of his worship in 
the centre of the country, and there he set over them one prin- 
cipal priest, to whom they were all to be subject, for the better, 
preservation of unity among them. Now, when the true 
religion has been diffused over the whole world, who decs not 
perceive it to be utterly absurd to assign the government of the 
east and west to one man ? It is just as if it were cor tended, 
that the whole world ought to be governed by one magistrate, 
because there is only one in a small district. But there is 
another reason why this ought not to be made a precedent for 
imitation. Every one knows that the Jewish high-priest was 
a type of Christ : now that the priesthood has been transferred, 
that right must also be transferred. To whom, then, is it trans- 



302 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IT. 

ferred ? Certainly not to the pope, as he impudently presumes 
to boast, when he assumes this title to himself ; but to Christ, 
who exercises that office alone without vicar or successor, and 
resigns the honour to no other. For this priesthood, which 
was prefigured in the law, consists not only in preaching or 
doctrine, but in the propitiation of God, which Christ effected 
in his death, and in that intercession which he is now making 
with the Father. 

III. There is no reason, therefore, why they should confine 
us to this example, as if it were a law perpetually binding, 
whereas we see it was only of temporary. duration. From the 
New Testament they have nothing to adduce in support of their 
opinion, but that it was said to one, " Thou art Peter ; and 
upon this rock I will build my Church." (r) Again : "Peter, 
lovest thou me? Feed my sheep." (s) But to render these 
proofs substantial, it is necessary for them first to show that he 
who is commanded to feed the flock of Christ, is invested with 
authority over all Churches, and that binding and loosing are no 
other than governing the whole world. But as Peter had re- 
ceived the command from the Lord to feed the Church, so he ex- 
horts all other presbyters to do the same, (t) Hence it is easy to 
infer, that this charge of Christ conferred nothing peculiar upon 
Peter beyond others, or that Peter communicated equally to 
others the right which he had received. But, not to dispute to 
no purpose, we have in another place, from the mouth of Christ 
himself, a clear explanation of what he intends by binding and 
/oosm^, namely, " remitting and retaining sins." (v) The man- 
ner of binding and loosing is shown by the whole tenor of 
Scripture, and particularly by Paul, when he says that the minis- 
ters of the gospel have received a commission to reconcile men 
to God,{w) and that they have authority to inflict punishment 
on those who shall reject this favour, (x) 

IV. How grossly they pervert those passages which make 
meution of binding and loosing, I have hinted before, and shall 
hereafter have to state more at large. At present it is worth 
while to see what they can extract from that celebrated an- 
swer of Christ to Peter. He promised him " the keys of the 
kingdom of heaven." He said, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind 
on earth, shall be bound in heaven." (y) If we can agree re- 
specting the word ket/s, and the manner of binding, all dispute 
will immediately cease. For the pope himself will readily 
relinquish the charge committed to the apostles, which, being 
lull of labour and trouble, would deprive him of his pleasures 
without yielding him any profit. Since it is the doctrine of 

r) Matt. xvi. 18. (s) John xxi. 16. (t) 1 Peter v. 2. (v) John xx 23 

(w) 2 Cor. V. 18. (z) 2 Cor. x. 6. (?/) Matt. xvi. 19. 



CHAP. VI.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. ^OS 

the gospel that opens heaven to us, it is beautifully expressed 
by the metaphorical appellation of keys. — There is no other 
way in which men are bound and loosed, than when some are 
reconciled to God by faith, and others are more firmly bound 
by their unbelief If the pope assumed nothing but this to 
himself, I am persuaded there is no man who would either 
envy him or contend with him. — But this succession being 
laborious, and by no means lucrative, and, therefore, not at all 
satisfactory to the ])ope, hence arises a controversy on the 
meaning of Christ's promise to Peter. Therefore I infer from 
the subject itself, that it only denotes the dignity of the apos- 
tolic office, which cannot be separated from the burden of it. 
For if the definition which I have given be admitted, — and it 
cannot without the greatest effrontery be rejected, — then here is 
nothing given to Peter that was not also common to his col- 
leagues ; because otherwise there would not only be a personal 
injury done to them, but the majesty of the doctrine would be 
dmiinished. This our adversaries strenuously oppose. But 
what does it avail them to strike upon this rock ? For they 
can never prove, but that as the preaching of the same gospel 
was enjoined upon all the apostles, so they were all equally 
armed with the power of binding and loosing. They allege 
that Christ, when he promised to give the keys to Peter, con- 
stituted him head of the universal Church. But what he there 
promised to one, he in another passage confers upon all the 
rest together, and delivers it, as it were, into their hands, {z) 
If the same power, which had been promised to one, was 
granted to all, in what respect is he superior to his colleagues ? 
His preeminence, they say, consists in this — that he receives 
separately by himself, as well as in common with them, that 
which is only given to the others in common. What if I reply, 
with Cyprian and Augustine, that Christ did this, not to prefer 
one man before others, but to display the unity of the Church ? 
For this is the language of Cyprian: " That in the person of 
one man God gave the keys to them all, to signify the unity 
of them all ; that, therefore, the rest were, the same as Peter, 
endued with an equal participation both of honour and of 
power ; but that Christ commences with one, to show that the 
Church is one." Augiii£tine^says, "If there had not been in 
Peter a mysterious* representation of the Church, the Lord 
would not have said to him, I will give thee the keys ; for if 
this was said to Peter alone, the Church possesses them not ; 
but if the Church has the keys, Peter, when he received them, 
must have represented the whole Church." And in another 
place : " When a question was put to them all, Peter alone an- 
swers, Thou art the Christ; and to him Christ says, I will give 

(x) Matt, xviii. 18 John ix. 23. 



304 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK I»' 

thee the keys, as if the power of binding and loosing had been 
conferred upon him alone ; whereas he made that answer on 
behalf of all, and received this power in common with all, as 
sustaining the character of unity. He is mentioned, therefore, 
one for all, because there is unity in all." 

V. But this declaration, " Thou art Peter, and upon this 
rock I will build my Church," (a) they say, is no where to be 
found addressed to any other. As if in this passage Christ 
affirmed any thing respecting Peter, different from what Paul, 
and even Peter himself, asserts, respecting all Christians. For 
Paul makes " Christ the chief corner-stone," upon which they 
are built who "grow unto a holy temple in the Lord." (6) 
And Peter enjoins us to be " as hvely stones," who, being 
founded on that " corner-stone, elect and precious," (c) are by 
this connection at once united to our God and to each other. 
This belongs to Peter, they say, above the rest, because it is 
expressly attributed to him in particular. 1 readily allow 
Peter the honour of being placed among the first in the struc- 
ture of the Church, or, if they insist upon it, the very first of 
all the faithful ; but I will not permit them to infer from this that 
he possessed a primacy over the rest. For what kind of rea- 
soning is this : he excels the rest in ardour of zeal, in doctrine, 
in magnanimity ; therefore he possesses authority over them ? 
As though we might not with greater plausibility conclude 
that Andrew was superior to Peter, because he preceded him 
in time, and introduced him to Christ ; (d) but this I pass over. 
I am willing that Peter should have the precedence, but there 
is a great difference between the honour of preceding others, 
and authority over them. We see that the apostles generally 
paid this deference to Peter, that he used to speak first in their 
assembly, and took the lead in proposing, exhorting, and ad- 
monishing ; but we read not a word of his power. 

VI. We are not yet, however, come to that question ; I only 
mean at present to show, that they have no solid argument, when 
they wish to erect an empire over the universal church upon no 
other foundation than the name of Peter. For those antiquated 
fooleries with which they endeavoured at first to impose on the 
world, are not worthy of a relation, much less of a refutation — 
that the Church was founded on Peter, because it is said, " Upon 
this rock I will build my Church." (e) They allege in their 
defence, that it has been so explained by some of the fathers. 
But when this is contradicted by the whole tenor of Scripture, 
what avails it to set up their authority in opposition to God ? 
And why do we dispute about the meaning of those vrords, as 
though they were ambiguous or obscure ? whereas nothing can 

(a) Matt. xvi. 18. (b) Eph. ii. 21, 22. (c) 1 Peter ii. 4, 5 

(d) John i. 40—42. (e) Matt. xvi. 18. 



HAP. VI.] CHRISTIAN KELIGION. 305 

be expressed with greater clearness or precisi( n. Peter, ir, 
-lis own name and that of his brethren, had confessed that Christ 
was "the Son of God." (/) Upon this rock Christ builds his 
Church, because it is the only foiuidation, as Paul says, " other " 
than which "can no man lay." (o") Nor do I reject the au- 
thority of the fathers in this case, from a want of testimonies 
in their writings to sup|X)rt what I maintain, if I were inclined 
to adduce them. But as I have observed, I am unwilling to 
be unnecessarily tedious to my readers in arguing so clear a 
subject ; especially as it has been long ago discussed with 
sufficient copiousness and care by other writers on our side of 
the question. 

VII. Yet, in fact, we can obtain no better decision of this 
point than from the Scripture itself, if we compare all the places 
where it shows what office and power Peter held among the 
apostles, how he conducted himself, and in what manner he 
was received by them. On an examination of the whole, wo 
shall only find that he was one of the twelve, equal to the rest, 
their companion, not their mas.er. He proposes to the assembly 
indeed, if there be any thing to be done, and delivers his opin- 
ion on what is necessary to be done ; but he hears the observa- 
tions ot others, and not only gives them the opportunity of speak- 
ing their sentiments, but leaves them to decide, and when they 
have determined, he follows and obeys, (h) When he writes 
to pastors, he does not command them vvith authority like a 
superior ; but makes them his colleagues, and exhorts them 
with a courteousness which is usual among equals. (?) When 
he is accused for having associated with the Gentiles, though 
this is an unjust accusation, yet he answers it, and vindicates 
himself, (k) Commanded by his colleagues to go with John 
to Samaria, he refuses not. (l) The apostles, by sending him, 
declared that they did not consider him as their superior. By 
his compliance and undertaking the commission intrusted to 
him, he confessed that he was a colleague with them, but had 
no authority over them. If none of these facts had remained 
upon record, yet the Epistle to the Galatians might alone 
easily remove every doubt ; where Paul devotes nearly two 
whole chapters to the sole purpose of showing that he was 
equal to Peter in the dignity of the apostleship. Hence he 
relates that he went to Peter, not to profess subjection to him, 
but to testify to all the harmony of their doctrine ; and that 
Peter required no such thing as submission, but gave him the 
right hand of fellowship, that they might labour together in 
*.he vineyard of the Lord ; that no less grace had been conferred 

(/) Matt. xvi. 16. (A) Acts xv. 6—29. (k) Acts xi. 2, &c. 

Q) 1 Cor. iii. 11. (J) 1 Peter v. 1. (/) Acts viii. 14, 15. 

VOL. II. 30 



306 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IT 

upon him among the Gentiles, than upon Peter among the 
J3ws; and lastly, ;hat when Peter acted with some degree of 
unfaithfulness, he was reproved by him, and stood corrected 
by the reproof, (w) All these things fully prove, either that 
there was an equality between Paul and Peter, or at least that 
Peter had no more power over the rest than they had ove. him. 
And this, as I have already observed, is the professed object of 
Paul — to prevent his being considered as inferior in his apos- 
tolic character to Peter or John, who were his colleagues, not 
his masters. 

VIII. But though I grant them what they require respecting 
Peter, by admitting that he was the chief of the apostles, and 
superior in dignity to all the others, yet there is no reason why 
they should convert a particular instance into a universal rule, 
and make what was done but once a perpetual precedent ; for 
the cases are widely different. There was one chief among 
the apostles ; doubtless because they were few in number. If 
there be one president over twelve men, will it therefore follow 
that there ought to be but one president over a hundred thou- 
sand men ? That twelve should have one among them to 
preside over the rest, is no wonder. For this is consistent 
with nature, and the common sense of mankind requires, that 
in every assembly, even though they are all equal in power, 
yet there should be one to act as moderator, by whom the 
others should be regulated. There is no court, council, parlia- 
ment, or assembly of any description, which has not its presi- 
dent or chairman. So there would be no absurdity, if we 
acknowledged that the apostles gave this preeminence to Peter. 
But that which obtains among a small company is not imme- 
diately to be applied to the whole world, to the government of 
which no one man is sufficient. But the whole ecoiiomy of 
nature, they say, teaches us, that there ought to be one su- 
preme head over all. And in proof of this they adduce the 
example of cranes and bees, which always choose for them 
selves one leader, and no more. I admit the examples whicl 
they produce ; but do bees collect together from all parts of 
the world to choose one king ? Each kmg is content with his 
own hive. So, among cranes, every flock has its own leader. 
What will they prove from this, but that every Church ought 
to have its own bishop ? Next they call us to consider exam- 
ples from civil governments. They quote an observation from 
Homer, that it is not good to have many governors, with simi- 
'ar passages of other profane writers in commendation of monar- 
'ihy. The answer is easy ; for monarchy is not praised by 
fTlysses in Homer, or by any others, from an opinion that one 

(7rt) Gal. 1. 2. 



CHAP. VI.j CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 3C 7 

king ought to govern the whole world. Their meaniug is, 
that one kingdom does not admit of two kings, and that no 
prince can bear a partner in his throne. 

IX. But supposing it to be, as they contend, good and 
useful that the whole world should be comprehended in one 
monarchy, which, however, is a monstrous absurdity ; but if 
this were admitted, I should not, therefore, grant the same system 
to be applicable to the government of the Church. For the 
Church has Christ for its sole Head, under whose sovereignty we 
are all united together, according to that order and form of gov- 
ernment which he himself has prescribed. They offer a gross 
insult to Christ, therefore, when they assign the preeminence 
over the universal Church to one man, under the pretence 
that it may not be destitute of a head. For " Christ is the 
head ; from whom the whole body, fitly joined together, and 
compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to 
the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh 
increase of the body. " (w) We see how he places all men, 
without exception, in the body, reserving to Christ alone the 
honour and name of head. We see how he cissigns to all 
the members respectively a certain measure, and a determi- 
nate and limited function ; so that the perfection of grace, as 
well as the supreme power of government, resides in Christ 
alone. I am aware of their usual cavil in evasion of this 
argument — that Christ is properly styled the sole Head, be- 
cause he alone governs by his own authority and in his own 
name, but that this is no reason why there may not be under 
him another ministerial head, as their phrase is, to act as his 
vicegerent on earth. But they gain nothing by this cavil, 
except they first prove that this ministry was ordained by 
Christ. For the apostle teaches, that all the subordinate minis- 
tration is distributed among the members, but that the power 
proceeds from that one heavenly Head, (o) Or, if they wish 
me to speak in plainer terms, since the Scripture declares 
Christ to be the Head, and ascribes this honour to him alone, 
it ought not to be transferred to any other, except to one 
whom Christ himself has appointed his representative. But 
such an appointment is not only nowhere to be found, but 
may be abundantly refuted by various passages. 

X. Paul gives us a lively description of the church on 
various occasions, but without making any mention of its 
having one head upon earth. On the contrary, from the de- 
scription which he gives, we may rather infer that such a 
notion is fore'gn from the institution of Christ. Christ, at 
his asce ision ^vithdrew from us his visible presence ; never- 

(«) Eph. iv. 15, 16. (o) Ep . i. 22 ; iv. 15; v 23. Col. i. 18 ; ii. 10. 



308 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IT 

theless "he ascended that he might fill all thiugs."(p) lln 
is still, therefore, present, and will always continue preseni 
with the Church. With a view to show us the manner in 
which he manifests himself, Paul calls our attention to the 
offices which he employs. There is "one Lcrd,"he says, "in 
you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according 
to the measure of the gift of Christ. And he gave some, 
apostles ; and some, evangelists ; and some, pastors and teach- 
ers." {q) Why does he not say, that he has appointed one 
to preside over all as his vicegerent ? For his subject abso- 
lutely required it, and it ought by no mean's to have been 
omitted, if it had been true. " Christ," he says, " is present 
with us." How? "By the ministry of men whom he has 
appointed to the government of the Church." Why not 
rather, " By the ministerial head, to whom he has delegated 
his authority ? " He mentions a unity ; but it is in God, and 
in the faith of Christ. He attributes nothing to men but a com- 
mon ministry, and to every individual his particular share. In 
that commendation of unity, after having said, " There is one 
body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, 
one baptism," (r) why has he not likewise immediately added, 
"one supreme pontiif to preserve the Church in unity ? " For 
if it had been true, nothing could have been more proper. 
Let that passage be duly considered. There is no doubt that 
he intends there a representation of the sacred and spiritual 
government of the Church, which has since received the name 
of hierarchy. Monarchy among ministers, or the government 
of one over all the rest, he not only does not mention, but 
indicates that there is no such thing. There is no doubt also 
that he meant to express the nature of the union, by which the 
faithful are connected with Christ their Head. Now, he hot 
only makes no mention of any ministerial head, but attri- 
butes to every one of the members a particular operation, ac- 
cording to the measure of grace distributed to each. Nor is 
there any foundation for their far-fetched argument from a 
comparison of the heavenly and earthly hierarchy ; for, in judg- 
ing of the former, it is not safe to go beyond the discoveries 
of the Scripture, and in constituting the latter, it is not riglit 
to follow any other model than that which the Lord himself 
has delineated in his word. 

XL Now, though I should make them another concession, 
which they will never obtain from judicious persons, that the 
primacy of the Church was established in Peter, and to be 
continued by a perpetual succession, how will they prove that 
'ts seat was fixed at Rome, so that whoever is bishop of that 

(/>) Eph. iv. 10. (q) Eph. iv. 5—7, 11. (/•} Eph. iv. 4, 5. 



CHAP VI.j CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 309 

city must preside over the whole world ? By what right do 
they restrict to one place this dignity, which was conferred 
without the mention of any place ? Peter, they say, lived 
and died at Rome. What shall we say of Christ himself? 
Was It not at Jerusalem that he exercised the office of a bishop 
while he lived, and fulfilled the priestly office by his death ? 
The Prince of pastors, the supreme Bishop, the Head of the 
Church, could not obtain this honour for the place where he 
lived and died ; how then could Peter, who was far inferior to 
him ? Are not these follies worse than puerile ? Christ gave 
the honour of primacy to Peter ; Peter settled at Rome ; there- 
fore he fixed the seat of the primacy in that city. For the 
same reason the ancient Israelites ought to have fixed the seat 
of their primacy in the desert, because it was there that Moses, 
their chief teacher, and the prince of their prophets, exercised 
his ministry, and died. 

XII. Let us see ,ha3K.= wretchedly they reason. Peter, they 
say, had the preeminence among "t"Ke apdstt&Sr' Therefore, 
the Church in which he settled ought to have this privilege. 
But where was he first stationed ? They repl) at Antioch. 
Then I infer that the Church of Antioch is justiy entitled to 
the primacy. They confess that it was originally the first, 
but allege that Peter, on his removal from it, transferred the 
honour which was attached to him to Rome. Foi there is an 
epistle of Pope Marceilus to the presbyters of Antiocli, in which 
he says, " The see of Peter was at first among you, but at the 
command of the Lord was afterwards removed to this city.'' 
So the Church of Antioch, which was originally the first, has 
given place to the see of Rome. But I ask. By what oracle 
did that wise pope know that the Lord had commanded this ? 
For if this cause is to be decided on the footing of right, it is 
necessary for them to answer, whether this privilege be per- 
sonal, or real, or mixed. It must be one of these. If they 
affirm it to be personal, then it has nothing to do with the 
place. If they allege it to be real, then when it has once 
been given to a place, it cannot be taken away from it by 
the death or removal of the person. It remains, therefore, 
for them to declare it to be mixed ; and then it will not 
be sufficiently simple to consider the place, unless there be an 
agreement also with respect to the person. Let them choose 
which they will, I shall immediately conclude, and will easily 
prove, that the assumption of the primacy by the see of Rome 
is without any foundation. 

XIII. Let us suppose the case, however, that the primacy 
was, as they pretend, transferred from Antioch to Rome. Why 
did not Antioch retain the second place ? For, if Rome has 
the preeminence of all other sees, because Peter presided there 



31U INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

till the close of his life, to what city shall the second place 
be assigned, but to that which was his first see ? How came 
Alexandria, then, to have the precedence of Antioch ? Is it 
reasonable that the Church of a mere disciple should be supe- 
rior to the see of Peter ? If honour be due to every Church 
according to the dignity of its founder, what shall we say 
of the other Churches ? Pjiaul mentions three apostles, " wb" 
seemed to be pillars, James, Peter, and John." (s) If the 
first place be given to the see of Rome, in honour of Peter, 
are not the second and third places due to Ephesus and Jeru- 
salem, the sees of John and James ? But among the patri- 
archates, Jerusalem had the last place ; Ephesus could not be 
allowed even the farthest corner. Other Churches also, as well 
those which were founded by Paul, as those over which the 
other apostles presided, were left without any distinction. The 
see of Mark, who was only one of the disciples, obtained the 
honour. Either let them confess that this was a preposterous 
arrangement, or let them concede to us, that it is not a perpetu- 
al rule, that every Church should be entitled to the degree of 
honour which was enjoyed by its founder. 

XIV. All that they say of the settlement of Peter in the 
Church of Rome appears to me of very questionable authority. 
The statement of Eusebius, that he presided there twenty- 
five years, may be refuted without any difiiculty. For it 
appears, from the first and second chapter to the Galatians, that 
about twenty years after the death of Christ, he was at Jeru- 
salem, and that from thence he went to Antioch, where he re- 
mained for some time, but it is not certain how long. Gregory 
says seven years, and Eusebius twenty-five. But from the 
death of Christ to the end of the reign of Nero, under whom 
they affirm Peter to have been slain, there were only thirty-seven 
years. For our Lord suffered in the eighteenth year of the 
reign of Tiberius. If we deduct tv/enty years, during which, 
according to the testimony of Paul, Peter dwelt at Jerusalem, 
there will remain only seventeen years, which must now be 
divided between those two bishoprics. If he continued long 
at Antioch, he could not have resided at Rome, except for a 
very short time. This point is susceptible of still clearer proof. 
Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans on a journey when he 
was going to Jerusalem, (t) where he was seized, and from 
whence he was sent to Rome. It is probable, therefore, that 
this Epistle was written four years before his arrival at Rome 
Yet it contains no mention of Peter ; which ought on no ac 
count to have been omitted, if he had presided over that Church, 
And in the conclusion, where he recites a long catalogue of 

(s) Gal. ii. 9. (t) Rom. xv 25. 



CUiLP. VI.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. (j 11 

pious persons to whom he sends his salutations, where, in short, 
he enumerates all that were known to him, he still says not a 
word of Peter, (v) It is urnecessary to use any long or laboured 
arguments with persons of sound judgment ; for the CEise itself, 
and the whole argument of the Epistle proclaims, that if Peter 
had been at Rome, he ought not to have been omitted. 

XV. Paul was afterwards brought as a prisoner to Rome. 
Luke says that he was received by the brethren, but says 
nothing of Peter, {w) From that city Paul wrote to several 
Churches. In some of these epistles he introduces salutations, 
in the names of certain brethren who were with him ; but they 
contain not a single word implying that Peter was there at that 
time. Who will think it credible that, if he had been there, 
Paul could have passed him over in total silence ? Moreover, 
in his Epistle to the Philippians, after having said that he had 
no one who discovered such sincere concern respecting the 
work of the Lord as Timothy, he complains that " all seek 
their own." (a:) And to Timothy himself he makes yet a 
heavier complaint : *' At my first answer no man stood with 
me, but all men forsook me." (y) Where was Peter then ? 
For if they say that he was at Rome, how deep is the igno- 
miny which Paul fixes upon him, that he was a deserter of the 
gospel ? For he is speaking of the faithful, because he adds 
his prayer, " that it may not be laid to their charge." How 
long, then, and at what time, did Peter hold that see ? It will 
be said, it is the uniform opinion of ancient writers, that he 
governed that Church till his death. But those writers them- 
selves are not agreed who was his successor. Some say it was 
Linus; and others, Clement. They likewise relate many ab- 
surd and fabulous stories respecting the disputation held between 
him and Simon Magus. And Augustine, when treating of 
superstitions, acknowledges that the custom, which obtained at 
Rome, of not fasting on the day on which Peter gained the 
victory over Simon Magus, arose from an opinion entertained 
without any sufficient authority. In the last place, the trans- 
actions of that age are so perplexed by a variety of representa- 
tions, that we must not give implicit credit to every thing that 
is recorded. Yet, in consequence of this agreement of the 
ancient writers, I will not dispute his having died at Rome ; 
but that he was bishop there, and especially for any considera- 
ble time, is what I cannot be persuaded to believe. Nor am I 
anxious respecting this point, because Paul testifies that the 
apost.eship of Peter particularly belonged to the Jews, and that 
his own was directed to us. To add our confirmation, there* 
frre, to the compact which they established between them- 

(f) Rom. xvi. (x) Phil. ii. 20,21. 

(id) Acts xxviii. 15 (y) 2 Tim. iv. 16. 



312 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

selves, or rather to admit the validity of the ordinance of the 
Holy Spirit, it becomes us rather to look up to the apostleship 
of Paul than to that of Peter. For their different provinces 
were allotted to them by the Holy Spirit, who sent Petbf t'^ 
the Jews, and Paul to us. The Romanists, therefore, may seek 
for their primacy elsewhere, but not in the word of God, whic^ 
affords not the least foundation for it. 

XVI. Let us now proceed to show, that our adve. varies 
have no more reason for boasting of the authority of ; he an- 
cient Church than of the testimony of the word of Goa For 
when they bring forward this principle, that the unity oi the 
Church cannot be preserved, unless it have one supreme head 
upon earth, to whom all the members should be subject, and 
that, therefore, the Lord gave the primacy to Peter, and after- 
wards by right of succession, to the see of Rome, that it might 
remain there to the end of time, — they also assert that this has 
been the usage from the beginning. Now, as they grossly 
pervert various testimonies, I would first make this preliminary 
•emark. I do not deny that the ancient writers uniformly 
give great honour to the Roman Church, and speak of it in 
respectful terms. This I consider as arising principally from 
three causes. In the first place, that opinion which, I know 
pot how, had been received, that it had been founded and set- 
tled by the ministry of Peter, operated very powerfully to gain 
it credit and authority, and, therefore, among the Western 
churches it was called the Apostolic See. In the second place, 
because it was the capital of the empire ; and on this account 
it is probable that it contained men superior in learning and 
prudence, skill and experience, to those of any other place ; 
due regard was paid to this circumstance, that the glory of the 
city and other far more excellent gifts of God might not appeal 
to be undervalued. In the third place, while the Eastern and 
Greek Churches, and even those in Africa, were agitated by 
numerous dissensions of opinion among themselves, the Church 
of Rome was more peaceable and less disturbed. Hence it 
happened, that pious and holy bishops, on being expelled from 
their sees, frequently resorted thither, as to an asylum or port 
of safety. For as the people of Europe have less subtlety and 
activity of mind than the inhabitants of Asia and Africa, so 
they are not so volatile or desirous of novelty. It considerably 
increased the authority of the Chiu-ch of Rome, therefore, that 
in those uncertain times it was not so much agitated as the 
other Churches, and was more tenacious of the doctrine 
which it had once received than all the rest, as we shall pre- 
sently show more at large. On account of these three causes, 
I say, it was held in more than common respect, and received 
many honourable testimonies from ancient writers. 



CHKISTIAN KELIGION 



313 



XVII. But when our adversaries wish to make this a reason 
for ascribiiig to that Church the primacy and sovereign power 
over other Churches, they run, as 1 have already observed, 
into a gross error. To make this the more evident, I will first 
briefly show what the ancient writers thought respecting this 
unity, on which our opponents so urgently insist. Jerome, 
writing to Ne.jotian, after having enumerated many examples 
of unity, at length descends to the hierarchy of the Church. 
■' Every Church," he says, "has its distinct bishop, archpresby- 
ter, and archdeacon, and all the order of the Church depends upon 
its governors." This is the language of a Roman priest, re- 
commending unity in the order of the Church. Why does he 
not mention that all Churches are connected together under one 
head, as by a common bond ? Nothing would have been 
more in favour of his argument ; nor can it be pretended that 
he omitted it for want of recollection ; he would most readily 
have mentioned it, if the fact had permitted him. It is be- 
yond all doubt, therefore, that he saw this to be the true kind 
of unity, which is most excellently described by Cyprian in 
the following passage : " There is only one bishopric, of which 
every bishop holds an integral part ; and there is but one 
Church, which is widely extended into a multitude by the oif- 
~gpring of its fertility. As the sun has many rays, but only one 
light ; as a tree has many branches, but only one trunk, fixed 
on a firm root ; and as many rivers issue from one spring, and 
notwithstanding the number of the streams in which its over- 
flowing abundance is diff"used, yet the unity of the source 
remains the same; — so also the Church, illuminated with the 
light of the Lord, extends its rays over the whole earth, yet it 
is one and the same light which is universally difl"used, nor is 
the unity of the body destroyed. It stretches its branches, it 
pours out its ample streams, all over the world ; yet there is 
but one root, and one source." Again : " The spouse of Christ 
cannot be corrupted ; she acknowledges one Master, and pre- 
serves her fidelity to him inviolate." We see how he attri- 
butes the universal bishopric, which comprehends the whole 
Church, to Christ alone, and says that integral portions of it 
are confided to all those who discharge the episcopal office 
under this head. Where is the primacy of the see of Rome, 
if the universal bishopric be vested in Christ alone, and every 
bishop hold an integral portion of it ? My object, in these 
quotations, has been, to convince the reader, by the way, that 
this principle, which the Romanists assume as an admitted and 
indubitable maxim, namely, that the unity of the Church re- 
quires the supremacy of some earthly head, was altogethei 
mknown to the ancients. 
voj.. II. 40 



cJ14 INSTITUTES OF THE 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF THE PAPAL POWER TO ITS PRESt <fT 
EMINENCE, ATTENDED WITH THE LOSS OF LIBERTY TO 
THE CHURCH, AND THE RUIN OF ALL MODERATION, 

In support of the antiquity of the primacy of the see of Rome, 
there is nothing to be found anterior to the decree of the Coun- 
cil of Nice, by which the bishop of Rome is allotted the first 
place among the patriarchs, and is directed to superintend the 
neighbouring Churches. When the council makes a distinction 
between him and the other patriarchs, so as to assign to all their 
respective limits, it clearly does not constitute him the head of 
them all, but only makes him one of the principal. Vitus and 
Vincentius attended the council on the behalf of Julius, who 
at that time presided over the Church of Rome. They were 
seated in the fourth place. If Julius had been acknowledged 
as the head of the Church, would his representatives have been 
degraded to the fourth seat ? Would Athanasius have presided 
in a general council, where the form of the hierarchical system 
ought most particularly to have been observed ? In the council 
of Ephesus, it appears that Celestine, who was then bishop of 
Rome, made use of a disingenuous artifice to secure the dignity 
of his see. For when he sent his legates thither, he requested 
Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, who was otherwise to preside, to 
act on his behalf. For what purpose could this request be 
made, but that his name might, at any rate, occupy the first 
place ? For his legates sat in a lower station, were asked their 
sentiments among others, and subscribed in their order ; at the 
same time the patriarch of Alexandria united Celestine's name 
with his own. What shall I say of the second Council of 
Ephesus, where, though the legates of Leo were present, yet 
Dioscorus, patriarch of Alexandria, presided as in his own right ? 
They will object, that this was not an orthodox council, be- 
cause it condemned Flavianus, a holy man, bishop of Constan- 
tinople, and acquitted Eutyches, and sanctioned his heresy. 
But when the council was assembled, and the bishops took 
their respective seats, it is certain that the legates of the Roman 
Church were present among the others, as in a holy and legitimate 
council. Yet they contended not for the first place, but yielded 
it to another, which they would not have done if they had 
considered it as belonging to them. For the bishops of Rome 
have never been ashamed of raising the greatest contentions for 
their dignity, and they have not hesitated, on this account alone, 
to harass and agitate the Church with various and pernicious 



CH4P. VII. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. o\b 

controversies. But because Leo saw that it would be too pre- 
sumptuous a demand to require the first place for his legates, 
therefore he waived it. 

II. Next follows the Council of Chalcedon, in which, by the 
permission of the emperor, the legates of the Roman Church 
occupied the first place. But Leo himself confessed tl lat this was 
an extraordinary privilege. For when he requested it from 
iMarcian the emperor, and Pulcheria the empress, he did not 
pretend it to be his right, but only alleged, in support of his 
claim, that the Eastern bishops who presided in the Council of 
Ephesus had thrown every thing into confusion, and abused 
their power. Since it was necessary, therefore, to have a dis- 
creet moderator, and it was improbable that those who had once 
been so unsteady and disorderly would be fit for the oifice, he 
requested that, on account of the misconduct and incompetence 
of the others, the task of presiding should be transferred to him. 
That which is sought as a special privilege and an exception to 
a common custom, certainly does not arise from a general rule. 
Where the only pretext is, that it was necessary to have a new 
president, because the former ones had violated their duty, it is 
evident that this had not been the case before, and it ought not to 
be per])Otual, but was merely done in the contemplation of 
present danger. The bishop of Rome, therefore, had the first 
place in the Council of Chalcedon, not because it was the right 
of his see, but because the council was ia want of a discreet 
and suitable president, in consequence of those to whom that 
honour belonged having excluded themselves from it by their 
own intemperance and violence. And what I say was proved, 
in fact, by Leo's successor. For when he sent his legates to 
the fifth Council of Constantinople, which was held a considera- 
ble time after, he contended not for the first seat, but without 
any difficulty suflfered it to be taken by Menna, patriarch of 
Constantinople. So in the Council of Carthage, at which x4lu- 
gustine was present, the place of president was filled by Aurelius, 
archbishop of that city, and not by the legates of the Roman 
see, though the express object of their attendance was to support 
the authority of the Roman pontiff". And, moreover, there was 
a general council held in Italy, at which the bishop of Rome was 
not present. This was the Council of Aquileia, at which Am- 
brose presided, who was then in high credit with the emperor. 
T'here was no mention made of the bishop of Rome. We see, 
therefore, that the dignity of Ambrose caused the see of Milan at 
that time to have the precedence above that of Rome. 

III. With respect to the title of primacy, and other titles of 
pride, of which the if)ope now strangely boasts, it is not diffi 
cult to judge when and in what manner they were introduced. 
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, makes frequent mention of Cor- 



316 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

uelius, who was bishop of Rome. He distinguishes him by 
no other appellation than that of brother, or fellow bishop, 
or colleague. But when he writes to Stephen, the successoi 
of Cornelius, he not only treats him as equal to himself and 
others, but even addresses him with considerable severity, 
charging him at one time with arrogance, and at another with 
ignorance. Since the time of Cyprian, we know what was 
the decision of the whole African Church on this subject. For 
the Council of Carthage prohibited that any one should be 
called " the prince of priests," or " the first bishop," but only 
" the bishop of the first see." But any one who examines the 
more ancient records, will find that at that time the bishop of 
Rome was content with the common appellation of brother. It 
is certain that as long as the Church retained its true and un- 
corrupted form, all those names of pride, which in succeeding 
times have been insolently usurped by the Roman see, were 
altogether unknown : nothing was heard of a supreme pontiff" 
or a sole head of the Church upon earth. And if the bishop 
of Rome had been presumptuous enough to make any such 
assumption, there were judicious men who would immediately 
^,,have uepressed his folly. Jerome, being a Roman presbyter, 
was not reluctant to assert the dignity of his Church as far as 
matter of fact and the state of the times admitted ; yet we see 
how he also reduces it to an equality with others. " If it be a 
question of authority," he says, " the world is greater than a 
city. Why do you allege to me the custom of a single city ? 
Why do you set up a few instances, which have given rise to 
pride, against the laws of the Church ? Wherever there is a 
bishop, whether at Rome, at Eugubium, at Constantinople, or 
at Rhegium, he is of the same dignity and of the same priest- 
hood. The power of riches, or the abasement of poverty, makes 
no bishop superior or inferior to another." 

IV. Respecting the title of universal bishop, the first con- 
tention aiose in the time of Gregory, and was occasioned by 
the ambition of John, bishop of Constantinople. For he want- 
ed to make himself universal bishop — an attempt which had 
never been made by any one before. In that controversy 
Gregory does not plead against this as the assumption of a 
right which belonged to himself, but resolutely protests against 
it altogether, as a profane and sacrilegious application, and even 
as the forerunner of Antichrist. He says, " If he who is called 
universal falls, the foundation of the whole Church sinks at 
once." In another place: " It is a most melancholy thing to 
hear with any patience, that our brother and companion in the 
episcopal office should look down with contempt on all otl ers, 
and be called sole bishop. But what does this pride of his 
iidicate, but that the times of Antichrist are already at hand? 



CHAP. Vn.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 317 

For indeed he imitates him, who, despising the society of an- 
gels, endeavoured to usurp supreme power to himself." In 
another place, writing to Eulogius, bishop of Alexandria, and 
Anastasius, bishop of Antioch, he says, " None of my prede- 
cessors would ever use this profane word. For if one patriarch 
be called universal, the name of patriarch is taken away from 
all the rest. But far be it from any Christian heart to wish to 
arrogate to himself any thing that would in the least degree 
diminish the honour of his brethren. To consent to that exe- 
crable term is no other than to destroy the faith. Our obliga- 
tion to preserve the imity of the faith is one thing, and to 
repress the haughtiness of pride is another. But I confidently 
assert, that whoever calls himself universal bishops or desires 
to be so called, in such aggrandizement is the precursor of An- 
tichrist, because he proudly sets up himself above all others." 
Again, to Anastasius, bishop of Antioch : " I have said that 
the bishop of Constantinople can have no peace with us, unless 
he would correct the haughtiness of that superstitious and 
proud title which has been invented by the first apostate ; and 
to say nothing of the injury done to your dignity, if one bishop 
be called universal, when he falls, the whole Church sinks at 
:)nce." But his assertion that this honour was offered to Leo 
in the Council of Chalcedon has not the least appearance of 
truth. For there is not a word of this in the acts of that 
council. And Leo himself, who in many of his epistles cen- 
sures the decree passed there in favour of the see of Constanti- 
nople, would certainly not have passed over this argument, 
which would have been the most plausible of all, if that honour 
had really been offered to him, and he had refused it ; and, 
having otherwise an immoderate thirst for honour, he would 
not readily have omitted a circumstance so much to his praise. 
Gregory was mistaken, therefore, in supposing that title to 
have been given to the see oi Rome by the Council of Chalce- 
don. I forbear to remark how ridiculous il is for him to 
assert that the holy council conferred such a I tie, which he at 
the same time declares was profane, execrable, abominable, 
proud, and sacrilegious, and even invented b) the devil, and 
published by the herald of Antichrist. And yet he adds that 
his predecessor refused it, lest, by the dignity given to one 
individual, all other bishops should be deprived jf the honour 
due to them. In another place he says, " No one has ever 
wished to be called by such a name ; no one has arrogated to 
himself this presumptuous title ; lest, by assuming to himself 
the exclusive dignity of supreme bishop, he might seem to 
deny the episcopal honour to all his brethren." 

V. I come now to the jurisdiction which the Roman pontiff 
asserts that he indisputably holds over all churches I ki ow 



3l8 INSTITUTES OF THE [bUOK IV, 

what violent contentions there were in ancient times on this 
subject. For there has never been a period when the Roman 
see did not aspire to some authority over other Churches. And 
it will not be unsuitable to the present occasion to investigate 
the means by which it gradually rose to some power. I am 
not yet speaking of that unbounded empire which it has more 
recently usurped ; that I shall defer to its proper place. Bi t 
here it will be necessary to point out in a few words in wha 
manner and by what methods it formerly exalted itself, so as 
to assume any jurisdiction over other Churches. When the 
Eastern Churches were disturbed and divided by the factions 
of the Arians, in the reign of Constantius and Constans, sons 
of Constantine the Great, and Athanasius, the principal defend- 
et of the orthodox faith, was driven from his see, that calamity 
constrained him to go to Rome, in order that, by the authority 
of the Roman see, he might in some degree repress the rage 
of his enemies, and confirm the faithful, who were in extreme 
distress. He was honourably received by Julius, then bishop 
of Rome, and prevailed on the bishops of the West to under- 
take the defence of his cause. Thus the pious in the Eastern 
Churches, finding themselves in great want of foreign aid, and 
seeing that their principal succour was to be obtained from 
the Church of Rome, readily ascribed to it all the authority 
that they possibly could. But all this amounted to nothing 
more than that communion with it was held in high estima- 
tion, and it was accounted ignominious to be excommunicated 
from it. This dignity was afterwards considerably augmented 
by men of wicked and abandoned lives ; for to escape the 
punishments which they deserved, they resorted thither as to a 
common asylum. Therefore, if a priest was condemned by 
his bishop, or a bishop by the synod of his province, they im- 
mediately appealed to Rome. And the bishops of Rome 
received such appeals with culpable eagerness, considering it 
as a kind of extraordinary power to interfere in the concerns 
of distant Churches. Thus when Eutyches was condemned 
by Flavianus, patriarch of Constantinople, he complained to 
Leo that he had been treated with injustice. Leo, without 
any delay, but with equal temerity and expedition, undertook 
the patronage of a bad cause, issued bitter invectives against 
Flavianus, as if he had condemned an iimocent man without 
hearing his defence, and by this ambitious conduct he for some 
time afforded considerable support to the impiety of Eutyches. 
It appears that similar circumstances frequently happened in 
Africa. For as soon as any wicked man was convicted before 
the ordinary tribunal, he flew to Rome, and brought various 
false accusations against his sui)eriors ; and the see of Rome 
vas always ready to interpose. This presumption constrained 



CHAP. VII. J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 319 

the African bishops to pass a decree that no one shonld aj)peal 
beyond the sea on pain of excommunication. 

VI. Bat however this might be, let us examine what juris- 
diction or power the Roman see then possessed. Now, ecclesias- 
tical power consists in these four things — the ordination of 
bishops, the calling of councils, the hearing of appeals, or juris- 
diction, and corrective admonitions, or censures. All the ancient 
councils command bishops to be ordained by their own metro- 
politans ; and they never direct the bishop of Rome to be called 
to this office except in his own province. By degrees, however, 
a custom was introduced for all the bishops of Italy to go to 
Rome to be consecrated, except the metropolitans, who did not 
suffer themselves to be subjected to this bondage. But when 
any metropolitan was to be ordained, the bishop of Rome sent 
one of his priests to assist at the ceremony, but not to preside. 
There is an example of this in an epistle of Gregory, respecting 
the consecration of Constantius, archbishop of Milan, after the 
death of Laurentius. I do not suppose, however, that this was 
a very ancient practice. It is probable that at first they sent 
legates to each other, from a principle of respect and afiection, 
to witness the ordination, and testify their mutual communion ; 
and that what was originally voluntary, was afterwards consi- 
dered as necessary. However this may be, it is evident that in 
ancient times the bishop of Rome did not possess the power of 
consecrating bishops, except in his own province, that is, in the 
Churches dependent upon his see ; as is declared by one of the 
canons of the Council of Nice. Consecration was followed by 
the sending of a synodical epistle ; and in this the bishop of 
Rome had no superiority over others. It was the custom of 
the patriarchs, immediately after their consecration, to make a 
solemn declaration of their faith in a written communication to 
their brethren, professing their adherence to the doctrine of the 
holy and orthodox councils. Thus, by making a confession 
of their faith, they mutually approved themselves to each other. 
If the bishop of Rome had received such a confession from 
others, and not given it to other bishops in his turn, this would 
nave been an instance of acknowledged superiority ; but, as he 
was under the same obligation to give it as to require it, and 
was subject to the common law, it was certainly a token of 
equality, and not of dominion. We have examples of this in 
the epistles of Gregory to Anastasius and Cyriacus of Constan- 
tinople, and to all the patriarchs together. 

VII. Next follow admonitions or censures, which, as the 
bishops of Rome formerly employed them towards others, they 
also received from others in their turn. Irenseus, bishop of 
Lyons sharply reproved Victor, bishop of Rome, for having 
raised i 'oiaicious dissension in the Chnrch on subjects of no 



320 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK l\ 

importance. Victor submitted to the reproof without any oppo- 
sition. It was a liberty at that time commonly used by the holy 
bishops to exercise the privilege of brethren towards the bishop 
of Rome, by admonishing and reproving him whenever he 
committed any fault. He, in like manner, when occasion re- 
quired, admonished others of their fluty, and reproved them for 
their faults. For Cyprian, when he exhorts Stephen, bishop of 
Rome, to admonish the bishops of France, argues not from any 
superior authority, but from the common rights which priests 
enjoy among each other. If Stephen had then possessed any 
authority over France, would not Cyprian have said, Yoi' 
should chastise them, because they are subject to you ? Bu. 
he expresses himself in a very different manner. " This fra- 
ternal union," says he, " by which we are connected together, 
requires us to administer to each other mutual admonition." 
And we see with what severity of language, though otherwise 
a man of a mild disposition, he censures even Stephen himself, 
when he considered him assuming too much consequence. In 
this respect, also, there is yet no appearance of the bishop of Rome 
having been invested with any jurisdiction over those who were 
not of his province. 

VIII. With respect to the calling of councils, it was the duty 
of every metropolitan, at stated seasons, to summon a provincial 
synod. There the bishop of Rome had no authority. But a 
universal council could only be called by the emperor. For if 
any one of the bishops had attempted this, not only he would 
not have been obeyed by those who were out of his province, 
but such an attempt would have led to immediate confusion. 
Therefore the emperor sent a summons to attend to all of them 
alike. Socrates, indeed, in his Ecclesiastical History, states 
that Julius, bishop of Rome, expostulated with the Eastern 
bishops, for not having invited him to the Council of Antioch ; 
whereas the canons had forbidden that any thing should bo 
decreed without the knowledge of the bishop of Rome. But 
who does not see that this is to be understood of those decrees 
which bind the universal Church ? Now, it is no wonder if 
there was so much respect paid to the antiquity and eminence 
of the city, and to the dignity of the see, as to determine that 
no general decree respecting religion should be passed in the 
absence of the bishop of Rome, unless he refused to be present. 
But what is this towards dominion over the whole Church ? 
For we do not deny that the bishop of Rome was one of the 
principal, but we will not admit, what the Romanists now 
contend, that he had the authority over all. 

IX. There remains the fourth kind of ecclesiastical power, 
which consists in appeals. It is evident that he possesses 
supreme authority, to whose tribunal appeals are made. Many 



,.HAP. VII.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION, 321 

often appealed to the bishop of Rome ; and h?, also attempted 
to assmne the cognizance of causes; but he always became an 
object of derision whenever he exceeded his proper limits. [ 
shall say nothing of the East, or of Greece ; but it appears that 
the bishops of France strenuously resisted him, when he dis- 
covered an inclination to nsurp authority over them. In Africa, 
fhis subject occasioned a long controversy. For when the 
Council of Milevum, at which Augustine was present, had de- 
nounced excommunication against all who should appeal beyond 
the sea, the bishop of Rome endeavoured to get this decree 
rescind ^d. He sent legates to state that this privilege had been 
given to him by the Council of Nice. The legates produced 
certain acts which they alleged to be the acts of the Council of 
Nice, and which they had brought from the archives of theij 
Church. They were resisted by the Africans, who denied that 
the bishop of Rome ought to be credited in his own cause. 
They therefore determined to send to Constantinople, and othei 
cities of Greece, to obtain copies liable to less suspicion. It 
v/as foimd that these copies contained no such passages as the 
Roman legates had pretended. So the decree was confirmed, 
which had taken the supreme cognizance of appeals from the 
bishop of Rome. This transaction discovered the scandalous 
impudence of the Roman pontiff. For when he had fraudu- 
lently substituted the council of Sardis for that of Nice, he was 
disgracefully detected in a manifest falsehood. But still greater 
wickedness and effrontery were betrayed by those who added 
to the acts of the council a forged epistle, in which a bishop of 
Carthage condemns the arrogance of his predecessor, Aurelius 
for having dared to withdraw himself from obedience to the 
apostolic see, presents the submission of himself and his Church, 
and humbly supplicates for pardon. These are the glorious 
monuments of antiquity upon which the majesty of the Roman 
see is founded ; while, under the pretext of antiquity, they 
advance such puerile falsehoods, as require not the least pene- 
tration to detect. "Aurelius," says this famous epistle, "elated 
with diabolical audacity and obstinacy, was a rebel against 
Christ and St. Peter, and therefore deserved to be anathema- 
tized." But what said Augustine ? What said all the fathers 
who were present at the Council of Milevum ? But what 
necessity is there for spending many words to refute that stupid 
fabrication, which even the Romanists themselves, if they have 
any modesty left, cannot look at without being exceedingly 
ashamed ? So Gratian, the compiler of the decretal, — whether 
^rom wickedness or ignorance I know not, — after having recited 
.hat canon, that those who appealed beyond. the sea should be 
excommunicated, adds this exception, unless they appeal to the 
see of Rome. What can be done with such men, who are so 

VOL. II, 41 



322 



INSTITUTES OF Till: 



destitute of :3mmoii sense as to make that one case an exception 
lo a law, to guard against which every one sees that the law was 
made ? For the council, in condemning appeals beyond tne 
sea, only prohibited any one from appealing to Rome ; and this 
admirable expositor excepts Rome from the general prohibition ! 

X. But to put an end at once to this question, a single trans- 
action, related by Augustine, will be sufficient to show what 
kind of jurisdiction was anciently possessed by the bishop of 
Rome. Donatus, bishop of Casas Nigrag, had accused Caecili- 
anus, bishop of Carthage. The accused was condemned with- 
out a hearmg ; for, knowing that the bishops had conspired 
against hjm, he would not appear. The matter was then 
brought bfifore the Emperor Constantine. With a view to have 
the cause decided by an ecclesiastical judgment, he referred the 
cognizance of it to Melchiades, bishop of Rome, with whom 
he associated some other bishops from Italy, France, and Spain. 
If it was part of the ordinary jurisdiction of the see of Rome to 
hear an appeal in an ecclesiastical cause, why did Melchiades 
suffer any colleagues to be appointed with him at the pleasure 
of the Emperor ? and, moreover, why did he himself undertake 
the business rather at the command of the Emperor than from 
his own authority ? But let us hear what took place after- 
wards. Cascilianus was victorious. Donatus of Casee Nigrae 
was convicted of calumny. He appealed. Constantine re- 
feried the appeal to the bishop of Aries. He sat in judgment 
on the decision of the bishop of Rome. If the Roman see pos- 
sessed the supreme jurisdiction, subject to no appeal, how did 
Melchiades submit to such an insult, as for the bishop of Aries 
to be preferred before him ? And who was the Emperor that 
did this ? It was Constantine the Great, of whom they boast 
that he not only devoted all his attention, but employed almost 
all the power of his empire, to exalt the dignity of their see. We 
see, then, how very far the bishop of Rome was at that time 
from that supreme dominion which he pretends to have been 
given him by Christ over all Churches, and which he falsely 
boasts of having exercised in all ages with the consent of the 
whole world. 

XI. I know what numerous epistles, and rescripts, and 
edicts, there are, in which the pontiffs have confidently ad- 
vanced the most extravagant claims respecting this power. 
But it is also known to every person, possessed of the least 
sense or learning, that most things contained in them are so ex- 
tremely absurd, that it is easy to discover at the first glance 
from what source they have proceeded. For what man of 
sound judgment, and in his sober senses, can suppose tnai 
Anacletus was the author of that curious interpretation, which 
Gratian quotes und3r his name — that Cephas means a head? 



CHAP. VII.] CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 323 

There are many such fooleries collected together by Gratian 
without any judgment, which the Romanists in the present 
rlay employ against us in defence of their see ; and such phan- 
toms with which they used to delude the ignorant in the dark- 
est times, they still persist in bringing forward amidst all the 
light of the present age. But I have no intention to devote 
much labour to tho refutation of such things, which manifestly 
refute themselves by their extreme absurdity. I confess that 
there are also genuine epistles of the ancient pontiffs, in which 
they extol the majesty of their see by the most magnificent 
titles. Such are S(»me epistles of Leo ; who, though he was a 
man of learning and eloquence, had likewise an immoderate 
thirst for glory and dominion ; but whether the Churches at 
that time gave credit to his testimony when he thus exalted 
himself, is a subject of inquiry. Now, it appears that many 
were offended at his ambition, and resisted his claims. In one 
epistle he deputes the bishop of Thessalonica to act as his re- 
presentative in Greece and other adjacent countries ; in another 
he delegates the bishop of Aries, or some other bishop, to be 
his vicar in France. So he appoints Hormisdas, bishop of 
Seville, his vicar in Spain. But in all cases he mentions, by 
way of exception, that he makes such appointments on condi- 
tion that they shall in no respect infringe the ancient privileges 
of the metropolitans. But Leo himself declares this to be one 
of their privileges, that if any difficulty should arise, the metro- 
politan was to be consulted in the first place. These delega- 
tions, therefore, were accompanied^^withjthis condition — that 
there was to bg.no interference wfth any bishop in his ordinary 
jurisdiction, with any metropolitan in hearing appeals, or with 
any provincial synod in the regulation of the Churches. Now, 
what wa^ this but to abstain, frqm all jurisdiction, an.d orUy to 
interpose for the settl ement o f disputes, as far as was consistent 
with the law and nature of ecclesiastical communion ? 

XIL Irj the time of Gregory, thig ancient custom had abeady 
undergone a considerable change. For when the empire was 
convulsed and torn asunder, when France and Spain were 
afflicted with repeated and numerous wars and distresses, Illy- 
ricum laid waste, Italy harassed, and Africa almost ruined 
with incessant calamities, — in order to preserve the unity of the 
faith amidst such a violent convulsion of civil affairs, or at least 
to prevent its total destruction, all the bishops round about con- 
nected themselves more closely with the bishop of Rome. The 
consequence was, that the power as well as the dignity of that 
see was greatly increased. I am not much concerned, how- 
ever, respecting the methods by which this was effected.. It ii 
at least evident, that it was greater at that period than in the 
orecrding ages. And even then it was very far from an un- 



llil 



324 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK IV 

limited dominion, for one man to govern all oiners according 
to his own pleasure. But the see of Rome was held in such 
reverence, that its authority would repress and correct the re- 
fractory and obstinate, who could not be confined to their duty 
by the other bishops. For Gregory embraces every opportu- 
nity of protesting, that he as faithfully maintained the rights of 
others, as he required them to maintain his. "Nor under the 
influence o'^ ambition," says he, "do I withhold from any one 
that whii^h is his right ; but I desire to honour my biethren in 
all things." — There is not a sentence in his writings which 
contains a prouder boast of the majesty of his primacy than the 
following : " I know no bishop who is not subject to the apos- 
tolic see, when he is found in fault." But he immediately 
adds, " Where there is no fault to require subjection, all are 
equal by right of humility." He attributes to himself the au- 
thority to correct those who have transgressed ; if all do their 
duty, he places himself on an equality with them. But he as- 
sumed this authority to himself, and they who were willing 
consented to it, while others, who disapproved of it, were at 
liberty to oppose it with impunity ; and this, it is notorious, 
was the conduct of the majority. Besides, it is to be remarked, 
that he is there speaking of the primate of Constantinople, who 
had been condemned by a provincial synod, and had disregard- 
ed the united judgment of the assembly. His colleagues com- 
plained to the emperor of his obstinacy. The emperor ap- 
pointed Gregory to decide the cause. We see, then, that he 
made no attempt to interfere with the ordinary jurisdiction ; 
and that the very thing which he does for the assistance of 
others, he does only at the command of the emperor. 

Xni. This, therefore, was all the power which was then 
possessed by the bishop of Rome, — to 'oppose rebellious and 
refractory persons, in cases which required some extraordinary 
remedy, and that in order to assist, not to hinder, other bishops. 
Therefore he assumes to himself no more power over others 
than he grants to all others over himself, when he professes 
that he is ready to be reproved by all, and to be corrected by 
all. So in another epistle he commands the bishop of Aquileia 
to come to Rome to plead his cause in a controversy which 
had arisen between him and his neighbours, respecting an article 
of faith ; nevertheless he gives this command, not from his 
own authority, but in consequence of the mandate of the em- 
peror. Nor does he announce himself as the sole judge, but 
promises to assemble a synod to judge of the whole affair. 
But though there was still such moderation, that the power 
of the Roman see had its certain limits, which it was not per- 
mitted to exceed, and the bishop of Rome himself no more 
presided over others than he was subject to them, yet it a]> 



OHAP. VII.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 325 

pears how very displeasing this situation was to Gregory. For 
he frequently complains, that under the name of being a bishop, 
he was forced back to Liie world, and that he was more in- 
volved in secular cares than ever he had been while he was a 
layman ; so that in that honour he was oppressed with the 
tumult of worldly business. In another passage he says, 
" Such a vast biu'den of occupations presses me down, that my 
mind is incapacitated for any elevation towards things above. 
I am tossed about with numerous causes, like so many waves; 
and after my former seasons of retirement and tranquillity, I am 
disquieted with the tempests of a tumultuous life ; so that I 
may truly say, I am come into the depth of the sea, and the 
tempest has drowned me." Judge, then, what he would have 
said, if he had fallen upon these times. If he did not fulfil the 
office of a pastor, yet he was employed in it. He refrained 
from all interference in the civil government, and acknow- 
ledged himself to be subject to the emperor in common with 
others. He never intruded into the care of other Churches, 
except when he was constrained by necessity. And yet he 
considered himself to be in a labyrinth, because he could not 
wholly devote himself to the exclusive duties of a bishop. 

XIV. The bishop of Constantinople, as we have already 
stated, was at that time engaged in a contest with the bishop 
of Rome, respecting the primacy. For after the seat of the 
empire was fixed at Constantinople, the majesty of the govern- 
ment seemed to require that Church to be the next in dignity to 
the Church of Rome. And indeed at the beginning nothing 
3ontributed more to establish the primacy in the Church of Rome 
than the circumstance of that city being then the capital of the 
empire. Gratian recites a rescript under the name of Pope Lu- 
cinus, in which he says that the distinction of cities appointed 
to be the residence of metropolitans and primaics, was regulated 
by no other rule than the nature of the civil government previ- 
ously established in them. There is another similar rescript, 
also, under the name of Pope Clement, in which he says, that 
patriarchs had been appointed in those cities which had anciently 
been the stations of arch-flamens. This statement, though er- 
roneous, approaches to the truth. For it is certain, that m 
order to make as little change as possible, the provinces were 
divided according to the existing state of things, and that 
primates and metropolitans were placed in those cities which 
had precedence of the rest in dignity and power. Therefore, 
in the Council of Turin, it was decreed, that those which were 
the chief cities of the respective provinces in the civil govern- 
ment, should be the principal sees of bishops ; and that if the 
honour of the civil government should happen to be transferred 
from one city to another, tl: ^ seat of the metropolitan should be 



326 INSTITUTES OF THE [bOOK It. 

removed to the same place. But Innocent, the Roman pontiff, 
seeing the ancient dignity of his city beginning to decH; e, aftei 
the translation of the seat of the empire to Constantinople, and 
trembling for the honour of his see, enacted a contrary law ; 
in which he denies the necessity of a change of the ecclesieis- 
tical capitals, in consequence of a change of the imperial capi- 
tals. But the authority of a council ought to be preferred to the 
sentence of an individual, and we may justly suspect Innocent 
himself in his own cause. He proves by his decree, however, 
that the original regulation had been for the seats of metropo- 
litans to be disposed according to the civil rank of the respec- 
tive cities. 

XV. According to this ancient ordinance, it was decreed in 
the first Council of Constantinople, that the bishop of that city 
should have the next rank and dignity to the bishop of Rome, 
because that was a new Rome. But when a similar decree was 
passed long after in the Council of Chalcedon, Leo strenuousiy 
opposed it. And he not only took the liberty of pouring 
contempt on what had been decided by upwards of six hundred 
bishops, but likewise heavily reproached them with having 
taken from other sees the honour which they had ventured to 
confer on the Church of Constantinople. Now, what could 
incite him to disturb the world for so insignificant a cause, but 
mere ambition ? He says, that what had once been determined 
by the Council of Nice, ought to have been maintained inviola- 
ble. As if the Christian faith were endangered by the prefer- 
ence of one Church to another, or as if the patriarchates had beer 
distributed by the Council of Nice with any other view than 
the preservation of external order. Now, we know that external 
order admits, and even requires, various changes, according to 
the various circumstances of different periods. It is a futile pre- 
tence, therefore, of Leo, that the honour, which the authority 
of the Nicene council had given to the see of Alexandria, ought 
not to be conferred on that of Constantinople. For common 
sense dictates, that this was such a decree as might be abolished 
according to the state of the times. And besides, the repeal 
met with no opposition from the bishops of the East, who 
were most interested in the matter. Proterius, who had been 
appointed bishop of Alexandria instead of Dioscorus, was present ; 
as were other patriarchs, whose dignity was lessened by this 
measure. It was for them to oppose it, and not Leo, who re- 
tained his original station unaltered. When they all suffered it 
to pass without any objection, and even assented to it, and 
the bishop of Rome was the only one who resisted it, it is 
easy to judge by what motive he was influenced. He foresaw, 
what actually came to pass not long after, that as the glory of 
Rome was declining, Constantinople am ould not be content with 



CHAP. VII. J CHRISTIAN KELIGION. 327 

the second place, but would contend for the primac /. Yet all 
his clamour was unavailing; the decree of the council was 
confirmed. Therefore his successors, seeing themselves van- 
quished, peaceably refrained from such obstinacy ; for they de- 
creed that he should be accounted the second patriarch. 

XVI. But a little while after, John, who presided over the 
Church of Constantinople while Gregory was bishop of Rome, had 
the arrogance to assume the title of universal patriarch. Gregory, 
not afraid of defending his see in a good cause, resolutely 
opposed this assumption. And certainly it betrayed intolera- 
ble pride and folly in John to wish to make the limits of his 
bishopric the same with those of the empire. Now, Gregory did 
not claim to himself what he denied to another ; but execrated 
the title, by whomsoever it might be usurped, as wicked and 
impious. In one of his epistles he expresses his displeasure 
with Eulogius, bishop of Alexandria, for having complimented 
him with such a title. " Behold," says he, " in the preface 
of the epistle which you have directed to myself, who have for- 
bidden it, you have taken care to introduce that appellation of 
pride, by calling me universal pope. Which I entreat that your 
holiness will not do any more ; because all that you give to 
another beyond what is reasonable, is deducted from yourself. 
I consider nothing an honour to me, by which I see the honour 
of my brethren diminished. For my honour is the honour of 
the universal Church, and the perfect vigour of my brethren. 
If your holiness calls me universal pope, this is denying that 
you have any share in that which is wholly attributed to me." 
Gregory's was a good and honourable cause ; but John, being 
supported by the favour of Mauritius the emperor, could not 
be diverted from his purpose ; and Cyriacus, his successor, was 
equally inflexible. 

XVII. At length Phocas, who ascended the throne after the 
murder of Mauritius, being more favourable to the Romans, — for 
what reason I know not, unless because he had been crowned 
at Rome without any difficulty, — granted to Boniface the Third 
what Gregory had never demanded, — that Rome should be 
the head of all Churches. Thus the controversy was decided, 
Yet this grant of the emperor could not have been so much 
to the advantage of the see of Rome, if it had not been fol- 
"owed by other things. For Greece and all Asia soon after sepa- 
rated from its communion. France reverenced it only so far as 
not to carry its obedience beyond its inclinations ; nor was it 
reduced to entire subjection, till Pepin had usurped the crown. 
For after Zachary, the Roman pontiff, had assisted Pepin in the 
commission of treason and robbery, in deposing his lawful 
sovereign, and taking possession of the throne, he was rewaided 
by having the see of Rome invested with jurisdiction rvei the 



328 INSTITUTES OF THE [bO K IT 

Galilean (Jhnrches. As robbers are accustomed to divide theii 
common booty, so those worthy persons concerted together, that 
Pepin should have the temporal and civil sovereignty after the 
deposition of the rightful monarch, and that Zachary should 
be made the head over all bishops, and enjoy the spiritual power. 
At first this was feeble, as is generally the case with new estab- 
lishments ; but it was afterwards confirmed by the authority of 
Charlemagne, and almost from a similar cause ; for he also was 
indebted to the Roman pontiff", for his exertions in raising him to 
the dignity of emperor. Now, though it is probable that the 
Churches, before that time, had in general been greatly disfigured, 
it is evident that vn France and Germany the ancient form of 
the Church was then entirely obliterated. The archives of 
the parliament of Paris still contain brief registers of those times, 
which, in relating ecclesiastical events, make frequent mention 
of the treaties both of Pepin and Ciiarlemagne with the Roman 
pontiff"; from which it may be concluded that an alteration 
was then made in the ancient state of the Church. 

XVIII. From that time, as things daily became worse and 
worse, the tyranny of the Roman see was gradually established 
and increased, and that partly through the ignorance, and parti)' 
through the indolence, of the bishops. For while the Roman 
pontiff" was usurping every thing to himself, and proceeding 
from cno assumption to another, without any limits, in defiance 
of law and justice, the bishops did not exert themselves with 
the zeal which became them to repress his cupidity, and where 
there was no want of inclination, they were destitute of real 
learning and knowledge, so that they were not at all equal to such 
an important undertaking. We see, therefore, what a horrible 
profanation of every thing sacred, and what a total disorganization 
of the Church there was at Rome in the days of Bernard. He 
complains that the ambitious, the avaricious, the simoniacal, 
the sacrilegious, the adulterous, the incestuous, and all who 
were chargeable with the most atrocious crimes, from every 
part of the world, resorted to Rome, m order to procure or to 
retain ecclesiastical honours by the apostolical authority ; and 
that fiaud, circumvention, and violence, were generally practised. 
He says, that the judicial process which was then pursued 
was execrable, and not only unbecoming of the Church, but 
disgraceful to any civil court. He exclaims, that the Church 
is full of ambitious men, and that there is not one who is any 
more afraid of perpetrating the most flagitious crimes, than 
robbers in their den when they are distributing the plunder 
which they have seized on the highway. " Few," he says, 
"regard the mouth of the legislator ; they all look at his hands, 
and that not without cause, for those hands transact all that is 
done by th< pope. What a business it is, that they are bought 



CHAP. VH.j C HRISTIAN RELIGION. S29 

with the spoils oi the Church, wno say to you, \Vell done, well 
done ! The life of the poor is sown in the streets of the rich ; 
silver glitters in the mire ; people run to it from all parts ; it is 
borne away, not by the poorest, but by the strongest, or perhaps 
by him who runs fastest. This custom, or rather this mortal 
corruption, commenced not with you ; I wish it may end with 
you. In these circumstances you, a pastor, are proceeding, 
covered with abundant and costly attire. If I might dare to 
use the expression, these are rather the pastors of devils than 
of sheep. Did Peter act in this manner ? Was Paul guilty of 
such trifling ? Your court has been accustomed to receive 
men good, more than to make them so. For the wicked are 
not improved in it, but the good are corrupted." The abuses 
of appeals which he relates, no pious person can read without 
the greatest horror. At length, respecting the insatiable cu- 
jiidity of the see of Rome in the usurpation of jurisdiction, he 
concludes in the following manner : " I speak the murmur and 
common complaint of the Churches. They exclaim that they 
are divided and dismembered. There are few or none of them 
v.'ho do not either bewail or dread this plague. Do you inquire 
what plague ? Abbots are torn away from their bishops, bishops 
from their archbishops. It is wonderful if this can be excused. 
By such conduct you prove that you have a plenitude of 
power, but not of justice. You act thus because you can, but 
the question is whether you ought. You are appointed to 
preserve to all their respective honour and rank, and not 
to envy them." These few passages I have thought proper to 
recite, out of a great many, partly that the readers may see how 
sadly the Church had then declined, and partly that they may 
know into what sorrow and lamentation all good men were 
plunged by this calamity. 

XIX. But though we should grant to the Roman pontiff in 
the present day the same eminence and extent of jurisdiction 
which this see possessed in the middle ages, as in the times of 
Leo and Gregory, what is that to the Papacy in its present 
state ? I am not yet referring to the temporal and secular 
power, which we shall afterwards examine in its proper place ; 
but the spiritual government itself of which they boast, what 
resemblance has it to the condition of those times ? For the 
Romanists designate the pope no otherwise than as the supreme 
head of the Church on earth, and universal bishop of the whule 
world. And the pontiffs themselves, when they speak of their 
authority, pronounce with great superciliousness, that they 
have the power to command, and that to others is only left the 
necessity to obey ; that all their decrees are to be received as 
if they were confirmed by the voice of St. Peter ; that foi 
want of their presence, provincial synods have no authority 
vol. II. 42 



330 



INSTITUTES OF THE 



that they have the power to ordain priests and deacons for all 
the Churches, and to summon to their see those who have been 
elsewhere ordained. In the Decretal of Gratian there are in- 
numerable pretensions of this kind, which I forbear to recite 
lest 1 should be too tedious to my readers. But the sum Oi' 
them all comes to this ; that the Roman pontiff alone has the 
supreme cognizance of all ecclesiastical causes, whether in 
judging and determining doctrines, in enacting laws, in regu- 
lating discipline, or in exercising jurisdiction. It would also 
be tedious and superfluous to enumerate the privileges which 
they assume to themselves in reservations, as they call them. 
But what is the most intolerable of all, they leave no judgment 
on earth to curb or restrain their cupidity, if they abuse such 
unlimited power. " It cannot be lawful," they say, " for any 
one to reject the judgment of this see, on account of the pri- 
macy of the Roman Church." Again : " The judge shall not be 
judged, either by the emperor or by kings, or by all the clergy, 
or by the people." This is arrogance beyond all bounds, for one 
man to constitute himself judge of all, and to refuse to submit to 
the judgment of any. But what if he exercise tyranny over the 
people of God, if he divide and desolate the kingdom of Christ, 
if he disturb and overturn the whole Church, if he pervert the 
pastoral office into a system of robbery ? Even though he 
should go to the greatest extremes of profligacy and mischief, 
he denies that he is at all accountable for his conduct. For 
these are the very words of the pontiffs : " God has been 
pleased to decide the causes of other men by the judgment of 
men, but the prelate of this see he has, without all question, 
reserved to his own judgment." Again, " The actions of our 
subjects are judged by us ; but ours by God alone." 

XX. And that such edicts might have the more weight, 
they have falsely substituted the names of ancient pontiffs, eis 
if things had been so regulated from the beginning ; whereas 
it is very certain, that every thing, which attributes to the 
Roman pontiff more than we have stated to have been given 
him by the ancient councils, is a novel and recent fabrication. 
They have even gone to such a pitch of impudence as to pub- 
lish a rescript, under the name of Anastasius, patriarch of Con- 
stantinople, which declares that it had been ordained by the 
ancient canons, that nothing should be done even in the re- 
motest provinces, without being first reported to the Roman 
see. Beside the notorious falsehood of this, what man will 
think it credible, that such a eulogium of the Roman see 
proceeded from the adversary and rival of its honour and dig- 
nity? But it was necessary that these Antichrists should be 
carried t? such an extreme of madness and blindness, that their 
iniquity may be evident to all men of sound understanding, 



CHAP, VII. J CHRl'lIAN RELIGION. 331 

who only choose to open their eyes. But the Decretal Epis- 
tles, complied by Gregory the Ninth, as well as the Constitu- 
tions of Clement the Fifth, and the Decrees of Martin, still 
more openly and expressly .betray, in every page, the inhuman 
ferocity and tyranny of barbarous kings. But these are the 
oracles from which the Romanists wish their Papacy to be 
appreciated. Hence proceeded those famous axioms, which at 
the present day are universally received by them as oracles : 
That the pope cannot err; that the pope is superior to all 
counciv'.s ; that the pope is the universal bishop of all Churches, 
and supreme head of the Church upon earth. I pass over the 
far greater absurdities, which foolish canonists maintain in 
their schools ; which, however, the Roman theologians not 
only assent to, but even applaud, in order to flatter their idol. 

XXI. I shall not treat them with all the severity which 
they deserve. To this consummate insolence, another person 
would oppose the declaration of Cyprian among the bishops at 
the Council of Carthage, of which he was president : " No one of 
us calls himself bishop of bishops, or, by tyrannical fear, constrains 
his colleagues to the necessity of obeying him." He would 
object what was decreed at Carthage some time after, " Thai 
no one should be caWed prince of priests, or first bishop.'' He 
would collect many testimonies from histories, many canons 
of councils, and various passages from the writings of the fa- 
thers, by which the Roman pontiff" would be reduced to the 
rank of other bishops. I pass over these things, however, that 
[ may not appear to lay too much stress upon them. But let 
the most able advocates of the Roman see answer me, with 
what face they can dare to defend the title of universal bishop, 
which they find to have been so often anathematized by Gregory. 
If the testimony of Gregory be entitled to any credit, they can- 
not make their pontiff universal bishop without thereby declar- 
ing him to be Antichrist. Nor was the title of head any more 
m use at that time ; for in one of his epistles he says, *' Peter 
is the principal member in the body ; John, Andrew, and 
James, were heads of particular people. Yet they are all 
members of the Church under one head. Even the saints 
before the law, the saints under the law, the saints under grace, 
are all placed among the members, and no one ever wished 
himself to be called universal.'^ The arrogant pretensions of 
the pontiff to the power of commanding are very inconsistent 
with an observation made by Gregory in another passage. For 
when Eulogius, bishop of Alexandria, had represented himself 
as commanded by him, he replies in the following manner: — 
" I beseech you, let me not hear the word command mentioned 
again ; for I know what I am, and what you are. In station, 
you are my brethren ; in holiness, you are my fathers. There- 



332 [NSTn UTES OF THE [bOOK IV. 

fore I ga\ t no command, but intended to suggest to you such 
things as appeared to be useful." By extending his jurisdic- 
tion, as he does, without any limits, the pope does a grievous 
and atrocious injury, not only to other bishops, but to all other 
Churches, which he distracts and divides by such conduct, in 
order to estabhsh his own see ujion their ruins. But .vhen he 
exempts himself from all the judgments of others, and deter- 
mines to reign in such a tyrannical manner as to have no law 
but his own pleasure, this is certainly so unbecoming, and 
foreign from theorder of the Church, that it is altogether intoler- 
able, and incapable of any defence. For it is utterly repugnant, 
not only to every sentiment of piety, but even of humanity. 
XXII. But that I may not be obliged to pursue and discuss 
every particular point, I again appeal to those of my contempo- 
raries, who would be considered as the most able and faithful 
advocates of the Roman see, whether they are not ashamed to 
defend the present state of the Papacy, which is evidently a 
hundred times more corrupt than it was in the times of Gregory 
and Bernard, but which even then so exceedingly displeased 
those holy men. Gregory every where complains, that he was 
excessively distracted with occupations unsuitable to his office ; 
that under the name of being a bishop, he was carried back to the 
world ; that he was involved in secular cares, to a greater extent 
than he could remember to have been while he was a layman ; 
that he was oppressed with the tumult of worldly business, so 
that his mind was incapacitated for any elevation towards things 
above ; that he was tossed about with numerous causes like so 
many waves, and disquieted with the tempests of a tumultuous 
life, so that he might justly say. " I am come into the depth of 
the sea." Amidst these worldly avocations, however, he could 
still instruct the people by public preaching, give private ad- 
monition and reproof to those who required it, regulate his 
Church, give advice to his colleagues, and exhort them to their 
duty ; beside these things, he had some time left for writing ; 
yet he deplores his calamity, in being plunged into the depth 
of the sea. If the administration of that age was a sea, what 
must be said of the Papacy in its present state ? For what 
resemblance is there between them? Here we find no sermons 
preached, no attention to discipline, no concern for the Churches, 
no spiritual function performed ; in a word, nothing but the 
world. Yet this labyrinth is praised, as though nothing could 
be found better constituted, or better administered. What 
complaints are poured out by Bernard, what lamentations does 
he utter, when he beholds the vices of his times ? What would 
he say, then, if he could behold this our iron, or, if possible, worse 
than iron age ? What mpudence is it, not only pertinaciously 
to defend as sfv:red and Divine what all the holy fathers have 



CHAP. Vll.J CHRISTIAN RELIGION. 33J 

reprobated with one voice, bat also to abuse their testimony in 
vindication of the Papacy, which it is evident was utterly un- 
known to them ! In the time of Bernard, however, I confess 
the corruption was so great that there was no great difference 
between that age and the present; but those who adduce any 
plea for the existing state of things from the time of Leo, Gregory, 
and others in that middle period, must be destitute of all shame. 
This conduct resembles that of any one, who, to vindicate the 
monarchy of the Roman emperors, should commend the ancient 
state of the Roman government ; which would be no other 
than borrowing the praises of liberty to adorn a system of 
tyranny. 

XXIII. Lastly, though all these things were conceded to 
them, they would be called to a new controversy, when we 
deny that there exists at Rome a Church in which such pri- 
vileges can reside, or a bishop capable of exercising these 
dignified prerogatives. Supposing, therefore, all these things 
to be true, which, however, we have already refuted. — that, by 
the voice of Christ, Peter had been constituted head of the 
universal Church ; that the honour vested in him he had 
committed to the Roman see ; that this had been established 
by the authority of the ancient Church, and confirmed by long 
usage ; that all men, with one consent, had invariably acknow- 
ledged the supreme power of the Roman pontiff ; that he had been 
the judge in all causes and of all men, and had been subject to 
the judgment of none; — though they should have all these 
concessions, and any more that they wished, yet I reply in one 
word, that none of them would be of any avail, unless there 
be at Rome a Church and a bishop. They must of necessity 
allow, that Rome cannot be the mother of Churches, unless it 
be itself a Church, and that he cannot be the prince of bishops, 
who is not a bishop himself Do they wish, then, to make Rome 
the apostolic see ? Let them show me a true and legitimate 
apostleship. Do they wish to have the supreme pontiff? Let 
them show me a bishop. But where will they show us any 
form or appearance of a Chtirch ? They mention it, indeed, and 
have it frequently in their mouths. But the Church is known 
by certain marks, and a bishopric is a name of office. I am not 
now speaking of the people, but of the government itself, which 
ought always to appear in the Church. Where is the ministry, 
such as Christ's institution requires ? Let us remember what 
has already been said of the office of presbyters and bishops. 
If we bring the office of cardinals to that rule, we shal) confess 
that they have no resemblance to presbyters. And I should 
wish to know what resemblance the pontiff himself bears to a 
bishop. The first duty of the episcopal office is to instruct the 
people from the word of God ; the second duty, closely connect* 



SS'if INSTITUTES OF THE [bOCK IT. 

ed with the first, is to administer the sacraments ; the third is 
to admonish, exhort, and reprove those who offend, and to 
regulate the people by holy discipline. Which of these duties 
does he perform ? Which of them does he even pretend to 
perform ? Let them tell me, then, upon what principle they 
require him to be considered as a bishop, who never, even m 
appearance, with his little finger touches the least portion of 
the duty. 

XXIV. The case of a bishop is different from that of a king, 
who still retains the honour and title of a king, though he 
execute none of the royal functions. But in judging of a 
bishop, regard is to be paid to the commission of Christ, which 
ought always to continue in force in the Church. Let the Roman- 
ists, therefore, furnish me with a solution of this difficulty. I deny 
that their pontiff is the chief of bishops, because he is not a 
bishop himself Now, they must prove this second member of 
my position to be false, if they will obtain the victory in the first. 
But what must be the conclusion, if he not only has no charac- 
teristic of a bishop, but every thing contrary to it ? But here 
where shall I begin ? with his doctrine, or his conduct ? What 
shall I say ? What shall I omit ? Where shall I stop ? I will 
make this assertion — that as the world is at present filled with 
so many corrupt and impious doctrines, loaded with such various 
kinds of superstitions, blinded with such numerous errors, and 
immerged in such profound idolatry, — there is not one of these 
evils which has not originated from the see of Rome, or at least 
been confirmed by it. Nor is there any other cause for the 
violent rage of the pontiffs against the revived doctrine of the 
gospel, and for their exertion of all their power to crush it, and 
their instigation of all kings and princes to persecute it, but that 
they see that their whole kingdom will decline and fall to the 
ground, where the primitive gospel of Christ shall be received. 
Leo was cruel ; Clement was sanguinary ; Paul is ferocious. 
But it is not so much that nature heis impelled them to impugn the 
truth, as that this was the only way to defend their power. As 
they cannot be safe, therefore, without ruining Christ, they 
labour in this cause as if it were in the defence of their religion, 
their habitations, their lives. What, then, shall we consider 
that as the apostolic see, where we behold nothing but a horrible 
apostasy ? Shall he be regarded as the vicar of Christ, who, by 
his furious exertions in persecuting the gospel, unequivocally 
declares himself to be Antichrist ? Shall he be deemed Peter's 
successor, who rages with fire and sword to demolish all that 
Peter built? Shall we acknowledge him to be head of the 
Church, who, after severing the Church from Christ, its only 
true Head divides and tears it in pieces ? Though it be ad- 
mitted tha Rom was once the mother of all Churches, yet 



CHAP. VII.] CHRISTIAN .Ul!'.LiuIU.\. ^kSO 

from the time wlieii it began to be the seat of Antichrist, it has 
ceased to be what it was before. 

XXV. Some persons think us too severe and censorious, 
when we call the Roman pontiff Antichrist. But those who 
are of this opinion do not consider